This is really odd in the extreme. Multiple human-factors, and technological safeguards, would need to fail simultaneously -on both vessels- in order for this catastrophic impact to have happened at sea.
Seven U.S. Navy crew members are missing and one injured after a U.S. Navy destroyer Fitzgerald collided at approximately 2:00am (local) Saturday morning with the merchant vessel ACX Crystal (Philippine Registry) off the coast of Japan. All nautical vessels have been requested to respond for maritime search and recovery efforts.
Footage and images from the Japanese TV network NHK showed heavy damage to the mid-right side (starboard) of the USS Fitzgerald and less severe damage to the left side (port) of ACX Crystal. The Crystal is 29,060 tons (w/out cargo) and is 222.6 meters (730 feet) long.
The land-based equivalent of a freight train (Crystal) hitting a school bus (Fitzgerald). By all rough photographic appearances the port-side bow anchor of the Crystal impaled a portion of the Fitzgerald near starboard side amid-ship just below her bridge. Anyone on the deck of the Fitzgerald would have been thrown from her almost immediately.
There are multiple injuries aboard the Fitzgerald. The U.S. 7th Fleet said the number of injuries is still being determined.
The Japan Coast Guard said it received an emergency call from a Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal around 2:20 a.m. (1720 GMT Friday) that it had collided with the USS Fitzgerald southwest of Yokusuka, Japan.
Coast guard official Takeshi Aikawa said seven crew members are unaccounted for, and one had a head injury. Further details of his or her condition were not known. Relatives of crew members were awaiting news of their loved ones.
“Of course we’re nervous and scared and just praying,” Rita Schrimsher said by telephone from Athens, Alabama.
Her grandson Jackson Schrimsher is a 23-year-old sailor aboard the USS Fitzgerald. She said she last communicated with him via Facebook messenger on Wednesday.
The Navy’s 7th Fleet said the ship experienced flooding in some areas and is heading back to Yokosuka. The fleet said the Fitzgerald has limited propulsion, and the ship suffered damage on the starboard side below the water line.
Aikawa said the US ship is partially flooded because of damage. So far no damage or injuries have been reported on the container ship, he said. NHK reported that the merchant ship had scratches on the left side of its bow.
The Philippine ship is 29,060 tons and is 222.6 meters (730 feet) long, the coast guard said.
The Navy said that the collision occurred 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, a city south of Tokyo that is home to the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet. A U.S. defense official said there is flooding in three compartments of the Fitzgerald.
The Fitzgerald is forward deployed to Yokosuka as part of the USS Ronald Reagan Strike Group. It took part in training near the Korean Peninsula last month involving ships from both the Reagan and USS Carl Vinson strike groups and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
The fleet said the USS Dewey, medical assistance and two Navy tugs were being dispatched as quickly as possible and that Naval aircraft were being readied to help. The Japan Coast Guard dispatched five patrol ships and an aircraft carrying medics to the site for search and rescue operations.