Mother: Son tried to save Navy shipmates after collision - FOX10 News

U.S. military personnel work on board the damaged USS Fitzgerald at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka southwest of Tokyo Sunday

The bodies of seven USA sailors missing after a Navy destroyer collided with a container ship off Japan were found in flooded berthing compartments, a defense official said.

The container ship that crashed into a US Navy destroyer, killing as many as seven American sailors, could be liable for "professional negligence", Japanese authorities say.

"The remains of seven sailors previously reported missing were located in flooded berthing compartments, after divers gained access to the spaces", it said, adding that the deceased sailors ranged in age from 19 to 37.

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin told reporters at a Navy base in Yokosuka, Japan, that a number of bodies have been recovered.

The early Saturday morning collision with a Philippines-flagged merchant ship in the Sea of Japan caused extensive damage to the USS Fitzgerald, a guided-missile destroyer.

With the assistance of US Navy tug boats, USS Fitzgerald managed to return to the its base in Yokosura, despite serious starboard side damage during the crash.

"This was a severe emergency, but the ship's crew was swift and responsive and I can't tell you how proud I am of the crew for what they did to save the ship", Aucoin said.

Aucoin said, without elaborating, that Benson "is lucky to be alive".

The ship, which handles general cargo, is manned by a captain and a crew of 20, NYK said.

A 7th Fleet statement said the collision did "significant damage and associated flooding to two berthing spaces, a machinery space, and the radio room".

Aucoin said the commander's living area was among many spots on the ship that received significant damage.

The incident took place some 56 nautical miles (104 km) southwest of the Japanese port city of Yokosuka, at about 02:30 local time on Saturday (1730 GMT Friday). He said the area of the ship that was struck and the timing of the accident make the response more hard. "All of our thoughts and prayers are with the Fitzgerald crew and their families", said Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations.

The shipping lane where the collision occurred is a congested one, with about 400 vessels passing through each day, the Japanese coast guard said.

Naval commanders praised the sailors for containing flooding caused by the collision, stabilizing the ship and sailing it back to port at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka. The container ship's left bow was dented and scraped, but it did not appear to have sustained any major structural damage when it was docked in the Tokyo bay late Saturday.

U.S. military personnel work on board the damaged USS Fitzgerald at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo Sunday, June 18, 2017.

"I express my heartfelt solidarity to America at this hard time", he said, praising USA servicemen in Japan under the allies' bilateral security pact.

Yukata Saito of the Japanese coast guard said conditions were clear at the time of the collision.

"We will update you once the investigation process is complete", he said.

Aucoin wouldn't speculate on the cause of the collision and would order a thorough investigation.

There were 285 crew onboard, the spokesman said.

The ACX Crystal had 20 crew Filipino crew members aboard and there were no injuries on that vessel, a Japanese Coast Guard official said. The container ship was seen making a U-turn before the collision on some ship trackers, a move that has raised questions about what happened.

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