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Seven crew members are missing and 1 person has been injured after a U.S. Navy destroyer and a merchant ship collided off Japan’s coast.
USA TODAY

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.

The Navy, Japanese maritime defense vessels and the coast guard were working to stabilize the destroyer as it headed to shore, said Navy chief Adm. John Richardson.

The Navy said that the collision occurred 56 nautical miles (103 kilometers) southwest of Yokosuka, which is home to the 7th Fleet. Footage showed the damaged ship moving slowly in calm seas, flanked by a tugboat.

“Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of…