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Navy recovers bodies of 7 sailors killed in crash


The bodies of seven USA sailors missing after a Navy destroyer collided with a container ship off Japan were found in flooded berthing compartments, the US 7th Fleet and a defense official said Saturday.

The early Saturday morning collision with a Philippines-flagged merchant ship caused extensive damage to the USS Fitzgerald, a guided-missile destroyer, and left seven of its crew members unaccounted for.

The bodies of seven missing sailors - found in the flooded wreckage of the navy destroyer.The commander of the seventh fleet revealing the damage you can see - the ship's mangled midsection - is relatively minor compared to what you can't see.

Among them was the USS Fitzgerald's commanding officer, Bryce Benson, who was evacuated by helicopter and was in a stable condition at a United States navy hospital in the Japanese city, the navy said.

The US Navy destroyer hit a Philippine merchant vessel southwest of the Japanese city of Yokosuka on Saturday.

Commander of the Seventh Fleet Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin said only frantic damage control efforts had saved the ship.

The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force ships JS Ohnami, JS Hamagiri, and JS Enshu joined the Japanese Coast Guard ships Izanami and Kano and USS Dewey (DDG 105) in the search for survivors.

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On Sunday, US authorities tacitly acknowledged there were no survivors as they ended the search, but declined to say how many bodies had been found until the families were notified.

The seven sailors didn't make it out of the berthing area, the Navy said.

All crew members on board the ACX Crystal were unharmed. The destroyer is salvageable, but repairs probably will take months, he said. Bryce Benson's was completely destroyed, according to Aucoin. The 222-meter Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal had large scrapes on its bow, but none of its 20 crew were injured, Japan's coastguard said.

The Fitzgerald suffered damage on her starboard side above and below the waterline, the Navy said.

"They had to fight the ship to keep it above the surface".

Multiple investigations are under way to determine how a technologically advanced USA warship was not able to get out of the way of a huge and cumbersome container ship, even if it had the right of way.

Trump tweeted Saturday morning Washington time: "Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families". Their bodies were recovered by divers after the ship crawled to the port of Yokosuka. Conditions at the time were clear, though the area - about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka - is often busy with sea traffic.

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