|USS Fitzgerald after the destroyer collided with a merchant|
ship on June 17 2017 (Image by Japan Coast Guard)
By Eugene Hoshiko and Koji Euda
YOKOSUKA, Japan — A U.S. destroyer was back in its home port after colliding before dawn Saturday with a container ship four times its size, leaving seven sailors missing.
The USS Fitzgerald, flanked by two tug boats and other support vessels, was listing to its right as it slowly approached the port at the Yokosuka Naval Base, south of Tokyo.
Crew members from the destroyer USS Dewey had helped stabilize the damaged destroyer after it collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan, leaving at least three sailors injured, in addition to the seven missing.
Family members were frantically seeking news, appealing via social media for calls from sailors aboard from the ship as it slowly made its way to its home base.
Rescuers were searching for seven sailors who were thought to have been thrown into the sea or possibly trapped inside damaged sections of the destroyer, said Japanese coast guard spokesman Yoshihito Nakamura. No one on the container ship was reported injured.
Footage from the Japanese TV network NHK showed Navy crew members working to pump water from flooded sections of the crushed mid-right side of the USS Fitzgerald.
The ship's captain, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was airlifted to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka and was in stable condition with a head injury, the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet said in a statement. Two other crew members suffered cuts and bruises and were evacuated, it said. It was unclear how many others may have been hurt.
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