7 Navy crew missing, skipper hurt after collision off Japan

Kyodo News via Associated Press, Iori Sagisawa

The damage of Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal is seen off Izu Oshima, Japan, after it collided with the USS Fitzgerald, Saturday, June 17, 2017. The Japan coast guard said it received an emergency call from a Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal early Saturday that it had collided with the USS Fitzgerald.

TOKYO — Seven Navy sailors were missing and at least two, including the captain, were injured after a U.S. destroyer collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan before dawn Saturday, the U.S. Navy and Japanese coast guard reported.

Footage from the Japanese TV network NHK showed heavy damage to the mid-right side of the USS Fitzgerald and a person in a stretcher being lifted to a helicopter.

The first, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was taken to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka and was in stable condition, the U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement. It said another injured person was being evacuated but gave no further details on the crew’s injuries. Others hurt in the crash were being evaluated, it said.

The Fitzgerald had limited propulsion after suffering damage on the starboard side below the water line and a U.S. defense official said there was flooding in three compartments. It wasn’t clear yet what caused the nighttime collision between the destroyer and the container ship four times its size. Most of the more than 200 sailors would have been asleep in their berthings, some of which were reportedly flooded.

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