Search is on for 7 missing US sailors, cause of ship collision off Japan

The search was on for seven US sailors missing after an American warship and a merchant vessel collided off the coast of Japan, as US forces and Japanese authorities worked to figure out why the vessels struck each other.
The 10,000-ton guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald and the ACX Crystal, a 29,000-ton container ship flagged in the Philippines, collided early Saturday local time, officials said.

The destroyer suffered severe damage to its starboard side, while the container ship sustained light damage.

“This has been a difficult day,” Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of the US 7th Fleet, said.

Forces overnight intensified their search for the missing sailors and tried to get a handle on the cause of a crash in a busy maritime zone crossed daily by 400 to 500 ships.

US and Japanese crafts scoured the spot where the collision happened, about 56 nautical miles southwest Yokosuka and 12 miles off the Izu Peninsula.

The missing sailors could be trapped in a damaged section of the destroyer, a statement from the 7th Fleet suggested.

“It remains uncertain how long it will take to gain access to the spaces once the ship is pier side … to methodically continue the search for the missing,” the statement said.

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