Seven American sailors are still unaccounted for after a US Navy destroyer’s collision with a merchant ship as Japanese and American authorities continue searching.
The US 7th Fleet said in a statement on Saturday that search and rescue efforts were underway by aircraft and boat to find the seven crew members from the USS Fitzgerald.
The guided-missile destroyer collided with a Philippine-flagged 730-foot container ship some 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan around 2:30 am local.
"This has been a difficult day," Vice Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin, the commander of the US 7th Fleet, said in the 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 names of those missing have not been made public yet, pending notification of family members.
"Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families. Thank you to our Japanese allies for their assistance," President Donald Trump tweeted after the ship returned to base in Japan with the help of two tug boats after 6 pm local time.
The ship's commanding officer, Bryce Benson, was flown by a Japanese helicopter to US Naval Hospital Yokosuka.
Some US lawmakers as well as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have voiced solidarity with the victims and their families.