The U.S. Navy asserts that the collision between the U.S.S. Fitzgerald and a Philippine vessel off the coast of Japan Saturday morning occurred at 2:20 a.m., according to a Navy official and CBS News. Authorities are puzzled over why it took 50 minutes for the collision to be reported to the Japanese coast guard.
The Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal cargo ship weighed about 30,000 tons, much larger than the destroyer that it struck, on the starboard side, near the pilot’s house. The destroyer listed back to its home port of Yokosuka, Japan, said CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.
If it hadn’t been for the sailor’s timely response, the ship may have sunk before returning to port, said the commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet.
“This was not a small collision,” Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin said. “It was right near the pilot’s house, and there is a big puncture.”
Acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley said in a statement, “We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our fellow shipmates. … As details emerge, we can all be proud of the heroic effort by the crew to tend to the needs of those injured and save the ship from further damage while returning safely to port.”
In the wake of the incident, various accounts of heroism and selflessness have emerged. One of them include a sailor who kept diving into a flooded berth to attempt to save his drowning shipmates as the air pockets around them diminished, according to CBS News.
The victims, first reported missing, have now been confirmed as deceased: Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut; Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland; and Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio.
Please continue to pray for the families of the victims and for the sailors of the Philippine vessel who were also affected.