The U.S. Navy has confirmed that the Japanese Coast Guard has been called to aide the USS Fitzgerald, which reportedly collided with a Philippines merchant ship 56 miles off of the Japanese Coast, according to Reuters.
The official statement said the extent of injuries to U.S. personnel was still being evaluated and an investigation was underway, but damage included flooding in three compartments of the USS Fitzgerald and that there were injuries, via the Associated Press.
Update, 6:07 p.m. ET: Here are some screenshots of the damage via NHK:
Update, 8:04 p.m. ET: Navy Times writer David B. Larter is reporting that the ship is seriously damaged and the commanding officer has been injured, via Twitter:
Update, 8:50 p.m. ET: Japanese media is reporting that seven U.S. crew members are missing, via the AFP:
Update, 10:57 p.m. ET: Here’s an updated official statement from the 7th Fleet:
As of this time, there have been two patients requiring medical evacuation. One was Cmdr. Bryce Benson, Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, who was transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka and is reportedly in stable condition. A second MEDEVAC is in progress. Other injured are being assessed. There are seven Sailors unaccounted for; the ship and the Japanese Coast Guard continues to search for them.
Although Fitzgerald is under her own power, USS Dewey (DDG 105) 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.
“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. 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,” said Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations.
“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.”
(The lede image has also been updated.)
Update, June 17, 10:40 a.m. ET:
The 7th Fleet has confirmed that the USS Fitzgerald has returned to port. At least three people are being treated for injuries, and the search for seven reportedly missing sailors continues with efforts being led by the Japanese Coast Guard.
Update, June 18, 11:00 a.m. ET: The search for seven unaccounted-for crew of the USS Fitzgerald has been called off after the bodies of all seven sailors have been found dead in the flooded berthing area, according to the Navy via The Wall Street Journal.
It is immediately clear that this is one of the worst modern tragedies in U.S. Naval history, but it was no accident. It is likely the fault of human error, and people are responsible. We’ll have to wait for the Navy’s investigation to understand exactly what went wrong and how that could lead to such an avoidable incident—at the cost of losing seven U.S. sailors.