U.S. Identifies 7 Sailors Killed in Destroyer Crash
U.S. Identifies 7 Sailors Killed in Destroyer Crash

The U.S. Navy on Monday identified the sailors who perished on the USS Fitzgerald after it collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship south of Tokyo Bay early on Saturday.

The seven sailors are:

  • Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Va.
  • Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, Calif.
  • Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Conn.
  • Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas
  • Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, Calif.
  • Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Md.
  • Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio.
Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut, one of the dead sailors identified by the U.S. Navy from a collision between the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald and Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, is seen in this undated handout photo released by the U.S. Navy on June 19, 2017. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters)
Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut, one of the dead sailors identified by the U.S. Navy from a collision between the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald and Philippine-flagged merchant vessel. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters)

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. The cause of the collision is not known.

The U.S. Navy confirmed that all seven missing sailors on the USS Fitzgerald were found dead in flooded berthing compartments.

Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia, one of the dead sailors identified by the U.S. Navy from a collision between the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald and Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, is seen in this undated handout photo released by the U.S. Navy on June 19, 2017. Courtesy of U.S. (Navy/Handout via Reuters)
Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Va., one of the dead sailors identified by the U.S. Navy from a collision between the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald and Philippine-flagged merchant vessel. (Navy/Handout via 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.

Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., from Elyria, Ohio, one of the dead sailors identified by the U.S. Navy from a collision between the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald and Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, is seen in this undated handout photo released by the U.S. Navy on June 19, 2017. Courtesy of U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS
Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., from Elyria, Ohio. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS)

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. (11.58 a.m. ET and 1.46 p.m. ET).

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.

Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland, one of the dead sailors identified by the U.S. Navy from a collision between the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald and Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, is seen in this undated handout photo released by the U.S. Navy on June 19, 2017. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters)
Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Md. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters)

The spokesman 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 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.

Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas, one of the dead sailors identified by the U.S. Navy from a collision between the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald and Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, is seen in this undated handout photo released by the U.S. Navy on June 19, 2017. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters)
Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters)

Two of three injured crew members who were evacuated from the ship by helicopter, including the ship’s commanding officer, Commander Bryce Benson, were released from the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet said on its Facebook page on Monday. The last sailor remained in hospital and no details were given about his condition.

Vice Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin, the Seventh Fleet commander, was asked on Sunday if damage on the starboard side indicated the U.S. ship could have been at fault, but he declined to speculate on the cause of the collision. Maritime rules suggest vessels are supposed to give way to ships on their starboard.

Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California, one of the dead sailors identified by the U.S. Navy from a collision between the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald and Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, is seen in this undated handout photo released by the U.S. Navy on June 19, 2017. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters)
Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, Calif. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters)

Japanese authorities were looking into the possibility of “endangerment of traffic caused by professional negligence”, Japanese media reported, but it was not clear whether that might apply to either or both of the vessels.

Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government was investigating with the cooperation of the U.S. side and every effort would be made to maintain regional deterrence in the face of North Korea, which has recently conducted a series of missile tests.

“It is extremely important to maintain U.S. deterrence in the light of an increasingly severe regional security situation,” he told a news conference.

Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California, one of the dead sailors identified by the U.S. Navy from a collision between the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald and Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, is seen in this undated handout photo released by the U.S. Navy on June 19, 2017. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters)
Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, Calif. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters)

“We will maintain close contact with international society, including the United States and South Korea, to maintain vigilance and protect the safety of our people.”

The incident has sparked as many as three investigations by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, and two by Japanese authorities.

Complicating the inquiries could be issues of which side has jurisdiction and access to data such as radar records that the United States could deem classified.

ACX Crystal, the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel that was damaged after colliding with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, is seen at a port in Yokohama, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo on June 19, 2017.  (Kyodo via Reuters)
ACX Crystal, the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel that was damaged after colliding with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, is seen at a port in Yokohama, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo on June 19, 2017. (Kyodo via Reuters)

Although the collision occurred in Japanese waters, under a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that defines the scope of the U.S. military’s authority in Japan, the U.S. Navy could claim it has the authority to lead the investigations.

The three U.S. investigations include a JAGMAN command investigation often used to look into the cause of major incidents, which can be used as a basis to file lawsuits against the Navy.

The damaged USS Fitzgerald. (Toru Hanai/Reuters)
The damaged USS Fitzgerald. (Toru Hanai/Reuters)

“We will coordinate with Japanese authorities on investigations and will address specific requests for access in accordance with normal procedures,” a Navy spokesman said.

The ship is salvageable, Aucoin said, but repairs would likely take months.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

This incident was the greatest loss of life on a U.S. Navy vessel since the USS Cole was bombed in Yemen’s Aden harbor in 2000, when 17 sailors were killed and 39 injured.

Naval historians recall possibly the last time a warship was hit by a larger vessel in peacetime was in 1964 off the coast of Australia. The HMAS Melbourne, an aircraft carrier, collided with the destroyer HMAS Voyager, shearing the much smaller vessel in half and killing 82 of the Voyager’s crew.

× close
Top