US Navy Destroyer Collides With Merchant Vessel Off Coast Of Japan

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Seven crew members are missing and one injured after the U.S. Navy destroyer collided early Saturday morning with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan, the country's coast guard reported.

Friday, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a merchant ship 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

Footage from the Japanese TV network NHK showed Navy crew members working to pump water from flooded sections of the crushed mid-right side of the USS Fitzgerald.

After helping stabilize the USS Fitzgerald, the destroyer USS Dewey joined other American and Japanese vessels and aircraft in the search for the missing sailors.

The USS Fitzgerald's captain, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, were evacuated from the damaged vessel and are being treated at the U.S. naval hospital at Yokosuka, the home of the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet.

Two other sailors were flown to hospital by helicopter for treatments for "lacerations and bruises", the 7th Fleet said on Twitter. It was unclear how many others may have been hurt. While the number of Injuries are still being determined, the U.S 7th fleet said it was working with the Japanese Coast Guard to conduct a medical evacuation.

Aerial images showed heavy damage on the destroyer's starboard side. "They are safe. The ship itself was slightly damaged from the incident", Charmaine Aviquivil, executive director, Office of Public Diplomacy, said.

"Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the sailors", said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Ms Schrimsher tweeted: "Just heard the sweetest voice and saw a wonderful face".

Japan's Kyodo News service says the Japanese coast guard is investigating the incident with the U.S. Navy and plans to question the crew members of the ACX Crystal.

"Of course we're nervous and scared and just praying", Rita Schrimsher said by telephone from Athens, Alabama.

The collision occurred near Yokosuka, a Japanese port city that is home to the United States 7th Fleet, which comprises up to 80 submarines and ships and including the USS Fitzgerald.

The ship carries a Philippine flag but is listed as owned by Japanese shipping giant NYK Line.

The Japan Coast Guard has confirmed that seven crew members are missing and one is injured.

The Fitzgerald is part of the Yokosuka-based group that includes the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, but it was operating independently of the carrier when the collision occurred, Flanders said.

"We are now searching for the missing individuals", a coastguard spokesman said, also confirming that another crew member had sustained serious injuries. The propulsion system of the ship has also suffered some damage, reportedly.

"It could have been worse, so we're grateful", she said by phone.

A search operation for the missing sailors is underway, with the Japanese Coast Guard involved in the search.