TOKYO, June 19 (Reuters) – Nearly an hour elapsed before a Philippine-flagged container ship reported a collision with a U.S. warship, the Japanese coastguard said on Monday, as investigations began into the accident in which seven U.S. sailors were killed.
The U.S. Navy confirmed that all seven missing sailors on the USS Fitzgerald were found dead in flooded berthing compartments after the destroyer’s collision with the container ship off Japan early on Saturday.
The Fitzgerald and a Philippine-flagged container ship collided south of Tokyo Bay early on Saturday. The cause of the collision is not known.
Multiple U.S. and Japanese investigations are under way on how a ship as large as the container could collide with the smaller warship in clear weather.
Shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon shows that the ACX Crystal, chartered by Japan’s Nippon Yusen KK, made a complete U-turn between 12:58 a.m. and 2:46 a.m. on June 17. (15:58 GMT and 17:46 GMT).
The collision happened at around 1:30 a.m. but it was not until 2:25 a.m. that the container ship informed the Japanese coastguard of the accident, said coastguard spokesman Takeshi Aikawa told Reuters.
He declined to elaborate on why the ship took nearly an hour to report the accident but said it could take ships time to notify authorities as they dealt with more urgent matters.
Right after being notified of he accident by the container vessel, the Japanese coastguard made contact with the U.S. ship and confirmed it, Aikawa said.
A significant portion of the crew on the U.S. ship was asleep when the collision occurred, tearing a gash under the warship’s waterline and flooding two crew compartments, the radio room and the auxiliary machine room.
A large dent was clearly visible in its right mid-section as the destroyer limped back to Yokosuka naval base south of Tokyo, home of the Seventh fleet, on Saturday evening.
The U.S. Navy on Monday identified the dead sailors as: Dakota Kyle Rigsby,…