US sailors missing after Navy destroyer collision off Japan

The USS Fitzgerald suffered damage to its starboard side above and below the waterline after it collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Seven US sailors are missing and the commanding officer of a US destroyer is among the injured after the warship collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan, the US Navy said Friday.

The USS Fitzgerald suffered damage to its starboard side above and below the waterline in the incident.

Cmdr. Bryce Benson was one of three injured sailors who needed to be flown to a naval hospital in Yokosuka, Japan. He is in stable condition, the Navy said.

US Navy Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said three sailors were medevaced.

Other injured sailors are being assessed, the Navy said.

The two ships collided about 2:30 a.m. local time in the Pacific Ocean about 56 nautical miles from the port of Yokosuka and 12 miles off the Izu Peninsula, the Japanese coast guard has told CNN.

The damage to the Fitzgerald resulted in some flooding, the Navy said.

A Navy official told CNN the destroyer is under its own power but has limited propulsion.

The vessel was taking on water after the incident, but the crew was working to stabilize the ship by pumping water out of the hold, a US Navy official told CNN.

The Navy said a Japanese coast guard helicopter was helping evacuate the injured, and Japanese state broadcaster NHK showed video of an apparently injured person being lifted aboard a coast guard helicopter from the ship.

The Japanese coast guard said four of its vessels and one helicopter were assisting the US Navy destroyer with damage assessment and searching the area around the ship, working on the possibility that some of the missing may have fallen into the ocean.

The official said emergency procedures have been put in place and the ship is not in danger of sinking at this time.

Officials said the merchant vessel involved in the collision is the ACX Crystal, a container ship flagged in the Philippines.

The ship tracking website says the Crystal displaces 29,060 tons and is 741 feet long. The ship had left the Japanese port of Nagoya on Friday evening, the site showed.

Photos of the Crystal showed damage to its bow.

The US Navy's 7th Fleet Twitter account said the Navy is working with the Japanese coast guard to conduct a medical evacuation of the injured. The extent of the injuries remains unclear.

The Fitzgerald is an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer with a crew of approximately 330 sailors.

The ship, displacing 10,000 tons and 505 feet long, completed $21 million in upgrades and repairs in February and is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, the service said.

According to a Navy news release from last month, Benson took command of the ship May 13 after serving as the ship's executive officer since November 2015.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the status of the commanding officer. He was medevaced for treatment.

CNN's Steve Almasy, Yoko Wakatsuki, Tammy Kupperman, Michael Callahan and Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.

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