Captain of Destroyer Airlifted to Hospital After Collision With Massive Cargo Ship. 7 Sailors Missing

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The USS Fitzgerald was involved in a collision south of Japan on Friday. It remains unclear how the Navy ship hit the cargo ship, but seven U.S. sailors are still missing, and now presumed dead. The Captain of the Fitzgerald was one of those injured in the accident, and he has been airlifted to a U.S. hospital in Japan.

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The location of the seven missing sailors remains a mystery. They could be in the mangled wreckage on the ship. Two crew berthings were flooded and sealed off, and one engineering main space was flooded, too.

Rescue crews from the U.S. Navy and from Japan combed the waters, but the collision occurred just after 2:30 a.m. local time, so their efforts were hampered by darkness.

Bryce Benson, the Fitzgerald’s Captain, was “transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka and is reportedly in stable condition,” a press statement from the US 7th Fleet acknowledged. Two other crew members were airlifted with the Captain.

The other ship suffered far less damage. The 29,000 ton container vessel, The ACX Crystal, is a much larger boat. Empty, it outweighs the Fitzgerald, a guided missile destroyer. Loaded, the ACX would be a formidable obstacle.

The USS Fitzgerald weighs in at just 9,000 tons, and cost $1.5billion to build.

“It was a was real fight by crew to keep the ship afloat. Our concerns now are with ship mates; seven sailors missing and 2 evacuees. When the news came we were all focused on the safety of or ship and the crew,” a naval spokesman in Yokosuka told The Daily Mail. “We at the base are still reeling from the events.”

Though no official blame has been placed, authorities tracking both ships say that the ACX made an erratic and high-speed u-turn and set a course back to Japan. Shortly after, it struck the Fitzgerald.

The Fitzgerald is now headed back to port in Yokosuka. The ship is under its own power, but moving slowly. She is being accompanied by the USS Dewey, and tug boats, and watched carefully by rescue aircraft.

The damage to the Fitzgerald is considered catastrophic, as much of it occurred below the waterline.