Kyodo News
Back to Main
7 missing as U.S. Navy ship collides with container ship off Japan

The U.S. Navy's guided-missile destroyer Fitzgerald collided
with a Filipino container vessel off Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, early
Saturday, leaving seven crew members from the destroyer unaccounted
for and three injured, the U.S. Navy said.

Among the injured, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, the Fitzgerald's
commanding officer, has been transferred to a hospital but is
reportedly in stable condition, while two sailors have also been
taken to a hospital for "lacerations and bruises," the Navy said.

The Japan Coast Guard sent patrol vessels and an airplane and
Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force dispatched a helicopter to search
for the missing crew members, joined by a U.S. aircraft.

The coast guard is investigating the accident with the U.S. Navy
and questioned the crew members of the 29,060-ton ACX Crystal,
operated by Japanese shipping firm Nippon Yusen K.K., with an eye on
possible endangerment of traffic caused by professional negligence.

A crew member from the container ship told the coast guard the
vessels were sailing in the same direction when they collided,
according to a source close to the investigation.

The collision took place at around 1:30 a.m. about 20 kilometers
southeast of Cape Irozaki in Shizuoka Prefecture, according to the
coast guard. The container ship was sailing from Nagoya port to Tokyo.

The Fitzgerald has been sailing in Japanese coastal waters to
monitor North Korea following a series of ballistic missile launches.

The starboard side near the bridge of the 8,315-ton
Aegis-equipped Fitzgerald sustained significant damage in the
collision with the container vessel, which was carrying 1,080
containers.

The Fitzgerald, which is part of the U.S. 7th Fleet, returned to
the Yokosuka Naval Base in Kanagawa Prefecture, while the container
vessel docked at a Tokyo port. The port side of the Filipino vessel
was damaged, the coast guard said.

The two countries are in talks on how to deal with the accident.

The United States has primary jurisdiction regarding incidents
involving members of U.S. forces under the bilateral status of forces
agreement.

Nippon Yusen said in a statement, "We are collaborating with the
ship owner and fully cooperating with the investigation by the coast
guard." All 20 Filipino crew members aboard the ship are safe, it
said, adding it has set up a task force of around 20 people to deal
with the accident.

At the time of the accident, the weather was clear and the
height of the waves was about 2 meters, the Japan Meteorological
Agency. The agency had not issued any advisory or warning for the
area.

Under international regulations on preventing collisions at sea,
when two vessels are in a crossing situation, a ship must give way to
the vessel to starboard. To determine the cause of the accident, the
locations of the two ships, their routes and whether they had
sufficient surveillance are likely to be scrutinized.

In April, the Fitzgerald conducted a joint exercise with an MSDF
destroyer in the Sea of Japan. The U.S. ship also carried out another
drill earlier this month in the Sea of Japan with the MSDF, together
with the U.S. carriers Ronald Reagan and Carl Vinson.

The ship also took part in the U.S. forces' "Operation
Tomodachi" relief efforts after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and
tsunami in northeastern Japan.

The Fitzgerald is 154 meters long and the ACX Crystal is 222.6
meters long. (June 17)


Photo taken June 17, 2017, from a Kyodo News helicopter shows the damaged part of the U.S. Navy's guided-missile destroyer Fitzgerald, which collided with a Filipino container vessel off Yokosuka, south of Tokyo. The accident has left seven crew members of the destroyer unaccounted for and three injured. (Kyodo)


Photo taken June 17, 2017, from a Kyodo News helicopter shows the damaged part of the Filipino container vessel ACX Crystal, which collided with the U.S. Navy's guided-missile destroyer Fitzgerald off Yokosuka, south of Tokyo. The accident has left seven crew members of the destroyer unaccounted for and three injured. (Kyodo)