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LNP - Search for 7 Navy sailors ends after bodies found on ship


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#1 LTnewsDawg

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 08:17 AM

YOKOSUKA, Japan (AP) — The search for seven U.S. Navy sailors who went missing after their destroyer collided with a container ship off the Japanese coast was called off after several bodies were found Sunday in the ship's flooded compartments, including sleeping quarters.

Navy divers found "a number of" bodies in the USS Fitzgerald, a day after the destroyer collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship four times its size, said Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the commander of the Navy's 7th Fleet. Aucoin, speaking at a news conference at the 7th Fleet's home base in Yokosuka, Japan, wouldn't say how many bodies were recovered, pending notification of next of kin.

Aucoin said that much of the crew of about 300 was asleep when the collision happened at 2:20 a.m. Saturday, and that one machinery room and two berthing areas for 116 crew members were severely damaged. He said the destroyer — which returned to Yokosuka on Saturday evening with the help of tug boats — was hit on the side and there was a significant impact.

The victims might have been killed by the impact of the collision or drowned in the flooding, said Navy spokesman Lt. Paul Newell, who led the media on a visit to get a firsthand look at the mangled destroyer.

Aucoin described the damage and flooding as extensive, including a big puncture under the ship's waterline, and said the crew had to fight to keep the destroyer afloat.

"The damage was significant. This was not a small collision," he said.

"You can't see most of the damage — the damage is mostly underneath the waterline, and it's a large gash near the keel of the ship," he said. "So the water flow was tremendous, and so there wasn't a lot of time in those spaces that were open to the sea. And as you can see now, the ship is still listing, so they had to fight the ship to keep it above the surface. It was traumatic."

The Fitzgerald's captain, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was airlifted from the ship's deck after daybreak Saturday to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka with a head injury. Two other crew members suffered cuts and bruises and were also flown out by helicopter.

Aucoin said Benson's cabin was destroyed. "He is lucky to be alive," he said.

Aucoin wouldn't speculate on the cause of the collision, and said he would order a thorough investigation.

Conditions were clear at the time of the collision, though the area is particularly busy with sea traffic.

The damage to the destroyer suggests that the container ship, the ACX Crystal, might have slammed into it at a significant speed. This has raised questions as to whether there was proper communication between the two vessels, particularly given how busy the waters in the area are.

The waters where the collision occurred see as many as 400 ships pass through every day, according to Japan's coast guard. They are especially congested in the early hours of the day, with ships carrying cargo for early morning delivery in Tokyo. The waters also have fast currents, making it a tricky area that requires experience and skill to navigate.

The ACX Crystal weighs 29,060 tons and is 222 meters (730 feet) long, much larger than the 8,315-ton destroyer. The container ship's left bow was dented and scraped, and it did not appear to have sustained any major structural damage when it was docked in the Tokyo bay late Saturday.

But on Sunday, a group of accident investigators from the Japanese transport ministry found damage to the container ship that had been hidden under the waterline when it arrived in Tokyo the previous night. Footage from Japanese broadcaster NHK showed a sharp horizontal cut across the bow area, which looked like a shark's mouth. Many scratches were also seen in the frontal area.

The container ship was seen making a U-turn before the collision on some ship trackers, a move that has raised questions about what happened.

All of the ACX Crystal's 20-member Filipino crew were safe, according to Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., which operates the ship.

The Japanese coast guard questioned crew members of the ACX Crystal, and is treating the incident as a case of possible professional negligence, said Masayuki Obara, a regional coast guard official.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a sympathy message to President Donald Trump on Sunday. "We are struck by deep sorrow," Abe said in the message.

"I express my heartfelt solidarity to America at this difficult time," he said, praising U.S. servicemen in Japan under the allies' bilateral security pact.

___

Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

Find her work also on APNews at https://www.apnews.c.../mari yamaguchi


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#2 skeptic2

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 09:22 AM

Very sad. Some were trapped and drowned.
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#3 GeezUS

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 09:31 AM

How does a container ship and a destroyer not see each other with the radar they have?


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#4 Farmer Vincent

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 09:38 AM

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How does a container ship and a destroyer not see each other with the radar they have?

The container ship made a quick and unexpected maneuver as if it was on 'Iron Mike' (the equivalent of auto pilot) and there was a glitch or program crash.  It was heading towards it's destination in the shipping lane then suddenly did a hard turn to port, struck the warship, did another hard turn to starboard, and continued back on course.  I'm sure an investigation will reveal more.

 

I'll add that they certainly would have had shipping traffic on surface radar and were likely tracking that ship it's course for some time.  However, surface radar has a blind spot within a certain distance from it's platform so that it doesn't pick up objects sticking up from it's own ship.  There's always sailors standing watch for objects close.  But a quick maneuver by a nearby ship is difficult, especially if there's no instant communications between the two ship to find out each other's intentions.  A quick guess at avoiding a collision is always a gamble because the wrong guess can put you directly in it's path.  


Edited by Farmer Vincent, 18 June 2017 - 09:45 AM.

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#5 Farmer Vincent

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 11:55 AM

Here's an informative track of the path of the ACX Crystal in this link that someone did using public sourced data and google maps.

 

http://www.vesselofi...739835846261280


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#6 o311mc

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 10:01 AM

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very sad turn of events here. I'm at least glad those seven sailors bodies were recovered. My sympathy and prayers go out to their families.
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