The commander of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet says that search and rescue efforts are over for the seven sailors missing after a destroyer collided with a container ship in waters off Japan.
But Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin declined to say how many bodies were recovered from USS Fitzgerald after it returned to its home port in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.
“The families are being notified and being provided the support they need during this difficult time. The names of the sailors will be released after all notifications are made,” the Navy said in a statement.
The USS Fitzgerald, a 10,000-tonne guided-missile destroyer and the ACX Crystal, a 29,000-tonne container ship flagged in the Philippines, collided in the Pacific Ocean about 56 nautical miles off the coast of Yokosuka in the early hours of 17 June, said the Japanese coast guard.
The destroyer suffered severe damage to its starboard side, while the container ship sustained light damage.
The bodies were taken to a US naval hospital in Yokosuka.
Fitzgerald’s Commander Bryce Benson, was evacuated by a Japanese naval helicopter while US military copters evacuated two injured US sailors.
All three were in stable condition at the US Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, said Commander Ron Flanders, a spokesman for US Naval Forces Japan.
Investigators now face trying to determine how a sophisticated U.S. warship collided with a container ship four times its size. Raising even more questions, tracking data sent from the ACX Crystal showed that the ship had reversed course about 25 minutes before the time of the accident, according to the website MarineTraffic.com.
Most of the more than 200 sailors aboard would have been asleep in their berths during the pre-dawn crash.