Search continues for 7 missing US sailors after collision near Japan

Search continues for 7 missing US sailors after collision near Japan
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U.S. and Japanese authorities continued to search for seven missing sailors on Saturday after a U.S. guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship.

Authorities conducted search and rescue efforts by aircraft and boat for the seven crew members from the USS Fitzgerald, the U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement.

The U.S. destroyer collided with ACX Crystal, a Philippine-flagged 730-foot container ship, around 2:30 a.m. local time some 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

With the help of two tug boats, the USS Fitzgerald returned to Yokosuka shortly after 6 p.m. local time where it was greeted by family members on the pier, according to the 7th Fleet.

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"This has been a difficult day," Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, the commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, said in a statement.

"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."

The Navy said it was not releasing the names of the missing sailors pending notification of family members. Authorities were investigating the collision.

"Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families. Thank you to our Japanese allies for their assistance," President Trump tweeted after the ship returned to base in Japan.

Officials said the early-morning collision caused "significant damage" to the U.S. destroyer, including flooding areas such as the machinery space and radio room.

Three crew members have received medical evacuation, including Cmdr. Bryce Benson, the ship's commanding officer, who was flown by a Japanese helicopter to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka.

Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntel Dem decries White House 'gag order' after Bannon testimony 'Total free-for-all' as Bannon clashes with Intel members Mellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) MORE and a number of lawmakers expressed support for the missing sailors and their families on social media on Saturday: