PHILIPPINE SEA - Search and rescue efforts continue by U.S. and Japanese
aircraft and surface vessels in the hopes of recovering the seven USS
Fitzgerald (DDG 62) still unaccounted for after it was involved in a
collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal at
approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, June 17, while operating about 56
nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.
Shortly after the collision the U.S. made a request for support from the
Japanese Coast Guard, which first arrived on scene and continues to be lead
for finding the seven missing Sailors. The Japan
Maritime Self Defense Force ships JS Ohnami, JS Hamagiri, and JS Enshu have
joined the JCG ships Izanami and Kano and USS Dewey (DDG 105). A U.S. P-8
Poseidon aircraft is working in concert with two JMSDF Helicopters and a
JMSDF P-3 Orion aircraft to search the area. Names of the missing Sailors
are being withheld until the families have been notified.
The collision effected Fitzgerald's forward starboard side above and below
the water line, causing significant damage and associated flooding to two
berthing spaces, a machinery space, and the radio room, which damage control
teams quickly began dewatering. While those efforts helped stabilize the
flooding, it remains uncertain how long it will take to gain access to the
spaces once the ship is pier side in Yokosuka in order to methodically
continue the search for the missing.
Once the ship arrives in Yokosuka, divers will inspect the damage and
develop a plan for repairs and inspection of the spaces.
As of this time, there have been three patients requiring medical
evacuation. One was Cmdr. Bryce Benson, Fitzgerald's commanding officer, who
was transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka by a Japanese Maritime
Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) helicopter. All three Sailors are awake and will
remain under observation at the hospital until further notice. Two
additional personnel have been medevac'd from Fitzgerald to USNH-Yokosuka by
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 (HSC-12) for lacerations and bruises.
Other injured are being assessed aboard the ship.
The USS Fitzgerald Emergency Family Assistance Center will remain open for
chaplain and counselor care indefinitely, 24/7, on the Command Readiness
Center's 4th Floor (across from the commissary) - in the same classroom
where the Area Orientation Brief (AOB) is hosted.
Interested family should call DSN at: 315-243-1728, 1729, 1730, 1731, 1731,
1732, 1733, 1734, 1735 or Commercial at: +81-46-816-1728, 1729, 1730, 1731,
1731, 1732, 1733, 1734, 1735