7 reported missing after U.S. Navy ship collides with merchant ship off Japan

Seven U.S. sailors are missing after a guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan, according to U.S. officials.

The Fitzgerald sustained significant damage in the predawn hours of Saturday local time and the ship's commander, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, has been evacuated via helicopter.

Benson was transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka and is reportedly in stable condition. Two sailors also were taken to the Yokosuka facility with bruises and lacerations.

"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, in a statement. "We thank our Japanese partners for their assistance."

The Navy, along with the Japanese Coast Guard, is searching for the seven at sea. The Dewey, another guided missile-destroyer, and two Navy tugs have been dispatched to provide assistance.

"The USS Fitzgerald is under her own power, although her propulsion is limited," the Navy said in a statement.

The collision occurred about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, roughly 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka. The 7th Fleet was providing updates on its Facebook page.

In a statement, Adm. John Richardson, chief of Naval Operations, said Japan’s navy, maritime self-defense force and coast guard were 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."


Twitter: @wjhenn


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7:50 p.m.: This story was updated throughout with staff reporting.

This story was originally published at 5:30 p.m.

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