By Idrees Ali
WASHINGTON The U.S. Navy said on Friday one of its destroyers collided with a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, in the dead of night and the 7th fleet said "there were no reports of casualties at this time".In a statement, the Navy said the USS Fitzgerald collided with a merchant vessel 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka.The U.S. 7th fleet said the destroyer had "experienced flooding in some spaces".Earlier a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said initial reports indicated multiple injuries aboard the destroyer. The official said the destroyer had suffered damage, that there was some flooding, and that it could not operate under its own power.However a spokesman for the U.S. 7th Fleet later said the ship was heading back to Yokosuka under its own power at 3 knots and would likely dock in a couple of hours.
Situated at the approach to Tokyo bay, Yokosuka and the waters to its south are a busy commercial waterway plied by commercial vessels sailing to and from Japan’s two biggest container ports in Tokyo and Yokohama.Japan's public broadcaster NHK showed aerial footage of the destroyer, which had a large dent in its right, or starboard, side. Images broadcast by NHK showed it had been struck next to its Aegis radar arrays behind its vertical launch tubes.No apparent damage could be seen from the images below the waterline although damage on the deck and to part of the radar appeared significant. NHK also showed footage of the container vessel and said it was heading towards Tokyo under its own power.
Japan's Kyodo news agency said neither ship was in danger of sinking but that there was information some crew may have gone overboard. It did not provide a source. Reuters could not immediately verify that account.The 7th fleet said the collision was with a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal.
A spokesman for the Philippines coast guard said he had heard of the accident but had no details since it was not in Philippine waters.The U.S. Navy said it had requested the assistance of the Japanese Coast Guard.Such incidents are rare.In May, the U.S. Navy's USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel but both ships were able to operate under their own power. (Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart in Washington, Timothy Kelly in Tokyo and Raju Gopalakrishnan; Additional reporting by Chizu Nomiyama in New York; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by James Dalgleish)
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Updated Date: Jun 17, 2017 04:15 AM