The U.S. Navy identified Sunday seven sailors who were lost aboard the USS Fitzgerald after a Japanese merchant vessel struck the warship miles off the coast of Japan.
The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet identified the deceased sailors as:
- 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, Texas
- 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
From top left to right, Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland, Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California, Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia, and Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California. From bottom left to right, Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut, Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas, and Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio. (U.S. Navy via AP)
The bodies were found in previously flooded compartments, including sleeping quarters. Searchers gained access to these spaces that were damaged during the collision and brought the remains to Naval Hospital Yokosuka, the Navy said Saturday.
The USS Fitzgerald was back at its home port in Yokosuka Naval Base south of Tokyo by sunset Saturday. The Philippine-flagged container ship was berthed at Tokyo’s Oi wharf, where officials were questioning crew members about the cause of the nighttime crash.
After stabilizing the USS Fitzgerald, the destroyer USS Dewey had joined other American and Japanese vessels and aircraft in the search for the missing sailors.
The U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement that the crash damaged two berthing spaces, a machinery room and the radio room. The majority of the more than 200 sailors aboard would have been asleep in their berths at the time of the pre-dawn crash.
Water was being pumped out of flooded areas, and it was unclear how long it would take to get into the crushed mid-right side of the ship once it was at the pier in Yokosuka, the Navy’s statement said Saturday.
Nippon Yusen, the Japanese shipping company that operates the container ship, said in a statement that it is collaborating with the ship owner and fully cooperating with the investigation by the coast guard. The 29,060-ton ship is Philippine-flagged and all the crew are Filipinos.
The USS Fitzgerald's captain, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was airlifted early Saturday to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka and was in stable condition with a head injury, the Navy said. Two other crew members suffered cuts and bruises and were evacuated. It was unclear how many others may have been hurt, but they remained on board for the 16-hour journey back to the port in Japan following the collision, officials told Fox News.
Benson was in his stateroom at the time of the collision, officials tell Fox News. The stateroom aboard a guided-missile destroyer is located on the right side of the ship and below the bridge, and was destroyed when the cargo ship crushed the destroyer. The collision also caused severe damage and flooding to berthing spaces, the radio room and an auxiliary (machinery) space.
The Navy said that the collision occurred 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, home to the 7th Fleet.
"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.
Conditions were clear at the time of the collision, though Yutaka Saito of the coast guard said the area is particularly busy with sea traffic.
The USS Fitzgerald collision is the third mishap since late January involving Navy warships near Japan.
On Jan. 31, USS Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser, damaged its propellers and spilled hydraulic oil into the ocean after running aground off the coast of Japan. At the time, officials told Fox News the warship had dragged its anchor after 30 knot winds blew the ship from its anchorage onto shoal water grounding.
Last month, USS Lake Champlain, a guided-missile cruiser, hit a South Korean fishing boat, near the Korean peninsula but no injuries were reported.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.