The damaged USS Fitzgerald returns to Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel. Navy photo

A U.S. destroyer that was homeported in San Diego before moving to Yokosuka, Japan, has collided with a merchant vessel resulting in injuries and missing sailors, according to U.S. Navy officials.

Part of the Destroyer Squadron 15, the USS Fitzgerald collided Thursday at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, according to a statement from U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs.

Several personnel aboard the Fitzgerald were reported injured, including Cmdr. Bryce Benson — the ship’s commanding officer –who was transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka and is reportedly in stable condition.

Other injured personnel are being assessed at press time and seven sailors are still unaccounted for.

The Japanese Coast Guard is helping in search efforts, according to the statement.

Early reports indicate the collision involved the Philippines-flagged ACX Crystal, a container ship of 29,060 gross tons.

“Although Fitzgerald is under her own power, USS Dewey got underway this morning as well as several U.S. Navy aircraft, and will join Japanese Coast Guard and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopters, ships and aircraft to render whatever assistance may be required,” the statement read.

“U.S. and Japanese support from the Navy, Maritime Self Defense Force and Coast Guard are in the area to ensure that the Sailors on USS Fitzgerald have the resources they need to stabilize their ship,” said Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations. “As more information is learned, we will be sure to share to it with the Fitzgerald families and when appropriate the public.

“Thank you for your well wishes and messages of concern. All of our thoughts and prayers are with the Fitzgerald crew and their families,” Richardson continued.

“Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the sailors,” said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. “We thank our Japanese partners for their assistance.”

–Staff

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