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The US Navy said that two crew members, including the captain, have been safely evacuated from the Navy destroyer that collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan. Seven sailors are still believed to be missing. The crew belonged to USS Fitzgerald of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, and it’s commanding officer Bryce Benson, had successfully been evacuated to the US Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, home base of the 7th Fleet, said the Navy. He was in stable condition, said the statement issued by the US Navy.
Details of the second sailor were not available immediately. Admiral John Richardson, chief of Naval Operations at Yokosuka, said the US Navy, the Japanese maritime defense vessels, and the Japanese coast guard were working tirelessly to stabilise the badly damaged ship.
The US Navy ship had collided with a Philippine merchant vessel, early on Saturday morning. After the collision between the two ships, the Navy had said that seven crew members are unaccounted for and at least was injured.
The Japan coast guard said it received an emergency call from a Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal around 2:20 am on Friday morning that it had collided with the Fitzgerald southwest of Yokusuka, Japan.
The US Navy further said the ship USS Fitzgerald suffered damage below the water line on its starboard side after it collided with a Philippine-flagged merchant ship.
The Navy said that the destroyer’s propulsion system had also suffered some damage.
The Navy said that three ships including a medical assistance vessel, USS Dewey, and two Navy tugs are being dispatched as quickly as possible. US Naval aircraft are also being readied to help, said the statement.
The US 7th Fleet issued a statement on its Facebook page saying that it is working with the Japanese Coast Guard to conduct a medical evacuation for a sailor by helicopter and that there are currently no reports of deaths.
Footage shot from a helicopter Saturday morning by Japanese broadcaster NHK showed heavy damage to the mid-right side of the Navy ship, which appeared to be stationary in the water. People were standing on various parts of the deck.
It is still not clear what caused the nighttime collision between the destroyer and the container ship four times its size. Most of the more than 200 sailors aboard would have been asleep in their berths, some of which were reportedly flooded.
The US Navy ship had more than 200 sailors aboard, who would have been asleep in their berths at the time of the accident.
The area, where the collision took place, is particularly busy with sea traffic, Yutaka Saito of the Japanese coast guard AP news.
The US Navy said that the collision occurred 56 nautical miles (103 kilometers) southwest of Yokosuka, which is home to the 7th Fleet.
Relatives of crew members were awaiting news of their loved ones.
“Just heard the sweetest voice and saw a wonderful face. He’s okay. Thank you all for the prayers,” Rita Schrimsher of Athens, Alabama, tweeted after speaking with her 23-year-old grandson Jackson Schrimsher via Facetime.