They died in their sleeping quarters.
The seven U.S. Navy sailors who were killed after their destroyer hit a container ship off the Japanese coast were found in the ship’s flooded berthing compartments, officials said Sunday.
Most of the approximately 300-member crew was asleep when the collision with the massive Philippine container ship occurred at 2:20 a.m. Saturday.
“This loss is something we all feel,” said Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet.
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The Navy’s search and rescue effort has been concluded, he added.
The names of the seven sailors were released Sunday night.
The sailors may have been killed on impact or drowned in the flooding, said Navy spokesman Lt. Paul Newell, who gave reporters a tour of the damaged destroyer.
The destruction indicates the collision occurred at a high speed.
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“There was a big puncture, a big gash underneath the waterline” by the bottom of the USS Fitzgerald, Aucoin said.
“The damage was significant,” he added. “This was not a small collision.”
Early Saturday morning, the ship’s captain, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was flown to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka. He suffered a head injury, authorities said.
The ship’s entire cabin was crushed in the collision.
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The surviving Navy crew valiantly worked to cordon off the areas taking on water.
“The water flow was tremendous, and so there wasn’t a lot of time in those spaces that were open to the sea,” said Aucoin, adding that “they had to fight the ship to keep it above the surface. It was traumatic.”
The Navy is investigating the cause of the crash, which occurred on a clear night. The area is a heavily trafficked spot with as many as 400 ships traveling past each day.
Based on the damage, it appears as if the ACX Crystal smashed into the much smaller destroyer at a high speed.
The container ship appeared to be trying to change paths by making a U-turn right before the crash, according to some ship trackers.
The 20-member Filipino crew was uninjured, according to Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., which operates the ship.
“We are struck by deep sorrow,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a message to President Trump Sunday. “I express my heartfelt solidarity to America at this difficult time,” he added.
The U.S. Navy said the sailors killed were:
– Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Va.
– Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, Calif.
– Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Conn.
– Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Tex.
– Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlosvictor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, Calif.
– Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Md.
– Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio.
With News Wire Services
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