The 20 crew members on the container ship, chartered by the Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen, were reported unharmed. The area sees heavy maritime traffic, with 400 to 500 vessels crossing it daily.
Marine tracking data showed the Crystal proceeding on a westward course toward Tokyo, but shortly after 1:30 a.m.it performed a sudden U-turn and returned back to where it had been at 1:30.
He thanked “our Japanese allies” for their swift assistance, and said the Navy will fully investigate the cause.
A significant portion of the crew was asleep when the collision occurred, tearing a gash under the warship’s waterline and flooding two berthing compartments, the radio room and the auxiliary machine room.
But after interviewing the ACX Crystal’s crew, the Japanese coast guard revised its crash time estimate to 1:30 a.m. She said the ship reported to the coast guard at 2:25 a.m., but she could not provide details about what the ship was doing for almost an hour.
A spokeswoman for the NYK Line, the ship’s operator, agreed with the earlier timing, but she could not provide details about what the ship was doing for the 50 minutes between the time of the collision and when it was reported.
Damaged part of USS Fitzgerald is seen at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo Sunday, June 18, 2017.
Senior officers had to resort to using satellite phones on the ship, which were the only communications channel available to the ship for some time.
From top left to right, Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland, Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California, Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia, and Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California. Bryce Benson, suffered a head injury in the collision and was airlifted to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka.
Aucoin said the cabin of the Fitzgerald’s captain, Cmdr.
The family said the Navy told them the cargo ship did not have its lights on at the time, and struck the ship at a high rate of speed.
Mia Sykes of Raleigh, North Carolina, told The Associated Press on Sunday that her 19-year-old son, Brayden Harden, was knocked out of his bunk by the impact and water immediately began filling the berth.
Sykes says her son told her that four men in his berth, including those sleeping on bunks above and below him died, while three died in the berth above his.
The USS Fitzgerald sustained damage on its starboard side and experienced flooded in some spaces as a result of the collision, according to the Navy.
The water flow into compartments that were berthing areas for 116 of the ship’s crew was “tremendous”, he said, adding that “there wasn’t a lot of time in those spaces that were open to the sea”.
“The crew had to fight very hard to keep the ship afloat”, he said.
“The ship is salvageable”, he said. Multiple U.S. and Japanese investigations are under way on how a ship as large as the container could collide with the smaller warship in clear weather.
While photos showed serious damage above the waterline, the container ship also did severe damage below it. Authorities declined to speculate on a cause.