The bodies of US sailors missing after their destroyer collided with a container ship off Japan have been found in flooded sleeping berths, a day after the accident tore a huge gash in the warship’s side, the US Navy said Sunday.
Seven sailors were reported missing after Saturday’s predawn collision, triggering a major search operation off Japan’s Pacific coast, and US authorities tacitly acknowledged there were no survivors.
“The search and rescue is over,” US 7th Fleet commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin told reporters, describing huge amounts of water that gushed into the sleeping compartments after part of the ship’s right side was caved in.
The Navy said it had found “a number” of bodies inside the guided missile destroyer, but did not specify if all seven crew had been found dead in the search that took place after it limped back into harbour.
Aucoin said the final toll was not being released “out of respect for their families”.
However, he said the destroyer sustained “a large gash” below the waterline, and nearby crew would have had little chance to escape the “tremendous” amount of water that poured through the breach.
“It was 2:20 in the morning. A significant part of the crew was sleeping,” he added, standing on the pier in front of the docked destroyer at its base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo.__The Nation