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Saturday, June 17, 2017

USS Fitzgerald collision: 7 missing, search ongoing

A U.S. Navy destroyer and a huge Philippine-flagged container ship collided off the coast of Japan Friday. Seven sailors are missing and three sailors were injured in the incident. 

The search continues into Saturday with the Japanese coast gPhiluard taking the lead in the search and U.S. vessels are also helping in the search.

Japan's coast guard said the sailors were thought to have been thrown overboard from the crash, or possibly trapped inside the damaged section of the USS Fitzgerald which was approaching its home port in Yokosuka Naval Base.

The names of the missing sailors are being withheld until the families are notified.

The USS Fitzgerald, flanked by two tug boats along with other support vessels was listing to starboard as it slowly approached the port. However, it was able to use its own propulsion even after suffering severe damage starboard just below the water line. 

A U.S. defense official said there was flooding in three compartments.

Nippon Yusen, the Japanese shipping company that operates the container ship, said it's working with the ship owner and fully cooperating with the coast guard investigation. 

The 29,060-ton container ship, the ACX Crystal, is about four times the size of the USS Fitzgerald and has an all Filipino crew.

The cause of the collision is not yet clear and the U.S. Navy and Japanese coast guard are investigating the incident.

Rita Schrimsher of Athens, Alabama was contacted by her 23-year-old grandson, Jackson Schrimsher, on Facetime to tell her he's okay after the nighttime collision. She tweeted: "Just heard the sweetest voice and saw a wonderful face. He's okay. Thank you all for the prayers."

Two crew, including the captain, have been evacuated from the destroyer. The Navy said in a statement that Cmdr. Bryce Benson, the ship's commanding officer, was evacuated to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, home base of the 7th Fleet. He is listed in stable condition.

No details were available regarding the second crew member.

They are all in my prayers along with Steve Scalise.