Navy divers found a number of sailors’ bodies on Sunday aboard the stricken USS Fitzgerald that collided with a container ship in the busy sea off Japan, but a spokesperson said not all seven missing had been accounted for.
Searchers gained access to the spaces that were damaged during the collision and brought the remains to Naval Hospital Yokosuka where they will be identified, the Navy said in a statement. Seven sailors had been missing, but Yoko Kato, a spokesperson for the U.S. Navy in Yokosuka, said not all were recovered.
She didn’t say how many were found.
Most of the nearly 300 sailors aboard would have been asleep in their berths at the time of the collision. Two berthing spaces, a machinery room and the radio room were damaged and began taking in water after the destroyer was rammed at the mid-right side of the ship.
Those who did not survive might have been killed by the impact of the crash or drowned by the flooding, said Navy spokesperson Lt. Paul Newell, who led reporters for a first look at the mangled vessel.
Japan’s coast guard officials said the sea and air search was still continuing at the site of the collision, 56 nautical miles (103 kilometers) southwest of Yokosuka, home to the 7th Fleet.
The Navy said that the families were being notified and provided the support they need during “this difficult time.” The names of the sailors will be released after all notifications are made.
Sixteen hours following the predawn Saturday collision, the destroyer was pumping out water as it limped back to its home port in Yokosuka Naval Base south of Tokyo by sunset Saturday, its crew lined up on deck. The Philippine-flagged container ship was berthed at Tokyo’s Oi wharf, where officials began questioning crew members about the cause of the crash.
At least three other crew members, including the captain, were injured.
“This has been a difficult day,” said Vice Admiral. Joseph P. Aucoin, the commander of the 7th Fleet. “I am humbled by the bravery and tenacity of the Fitzgerald crew. Now that the ship is in Yokosuka, I ask that you help the families by maintaining their privacy as we continue the search for our shipmates,” he said before the announcement that the bodies were found.