Seven Missing Sailors, on USS Fitzgerald, Found Dead
The Navy’s 7th Fleet reported that searchers found the bodies of seven missing sailors from the USS Fitzgerald. The bodies were found after the guided-missile destroyer returned to Japan where it is based. The bodies were found in flooded berthing compartments following the Fitzgerald’s collision with a merchant vessel.
Seven Missing Sailors Drowned in Compartments
“This loss is something we all feel,” according to Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of the US 7th Fleet. He added, “We have found a number of the remains…of our missing shipmates, and our deepest sympathies go out to the families of those shipmates.” Auction said the Navy would not specify the number of dead until all families of the deceased had been notified. However, he confirmed that all search and rescue efforts had ended. Also, the major news networks have been reporting the finding of the seven bodies. Aucoin reported, “There was a big puncture, a big gash underneath the waterline.” This happened along the bottom of the ship. The water flow into compartments that were berthing areas for 116 of the ship’s crew was tremendous. Aucoin said, “there wasn’t a lot of time in those spaces that were open to the sea.”
According to Aucoin, the cabin of the Fitzgerald’s captain, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was totally destroyed. “He’s lucky to be alive,” Aucoin said. Benson was immediately flown from the crippled ship by helicopter, after the accident, and was being treated at the naval hospital at Yokosuka along with two other sailors.
Aucoin suggested that the accident will result in multiple investigations. He said one will come from the Navy’s Judge Advocate General and one by the US Coast Guard. Japanese and Philippines authorities may conduct other investigations because of where the accident took place and the Philippine registry of the ship (the ACX Crystal, a 29,000 ton container ship which collided with the Fitzgerald).