JUST IN: 7 sailors missing after US Navy destroyer collides with merchant ship

In what can only be described at this point as a freak accident, seven U.S. sailors are missing following the collision of a U.S. Navy destroyer with (what’s also currently being described as) a Philippine merchant ship.  The accident happened about 56 nautical miles (roughly 64 miles) southwest of Yokosuka, Japan and according to The Hill:

“U.S. and Japanese authorities continued to search for seven missing sailors on Saturday after a U.S. guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship.

Authorities conducted search and rescue efforts by aircraft and boat for the seven crew members from the USS Fitzgerald, the U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement.

The U.S. destroyer collided with ACX Crystal, a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, around 2:30 a.m. local time some 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

With the help of two tug boats, the USS Fitzgerald returned to Yokosuka shortly after 6 p.m. local time where it was greeted by family members on the pier, according to the 7th Fleet.

“This has been a difficult day,” Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, the commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, said in a 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 Navy said it was not releasing the names of the missing sailors pending notification of family members. Authorities were investigating the collision.

Officials said the early-morning collision caused “significant damage” to the U.S. destroyer, including flooding areas such as the machinery space and radio room.

Three crew members have received medical evacuation, including Cmdr. Bryce Benson, the ship’s commanding officer, who was flown by a Japanese helicopter to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka.”

While it’s much too early for meaningful speculation, the sheer oddity of the accident is sure to have cover-up and conspiracy pundits worked into a lather wondering how in this day and age of advanced radar, navigation and global positioning systems and whatever else is on board a U.S. Navy destroyer –one of the most technically advanced vessels in human history– it’s possible for two ships of this size to “collide” in open water.  (The USS Fitzgerald is over 500-feet long.) A bustling, crowded harbor in the midst of ships coming and going, tugs zooming around, etc., ok, maybe. But in the middle of the ocean? How does that happen?

And even on the freak chance it does happen, how do two boats going bump in the night result in seven sailors going missing? If they’re missing then it’s obvious they’re not on the U.S. boat which leaves just two other options – either they ended up drowning or on the Philippine boat. In the latter case they’d be quickly found.

If they somehow managed to land in the water how does that happen?

Were seven of them standing near the edge of the deck at 2:30 in the morning, didn’t notice the other approaching ship, the collision knocked them all overboard; they yelled, hollered and screamed but went unnoticed until drifting too far away to be heard? Wouldn’t the deck of the boat be flooded with other sailors almost immediately after impact?

No one knows or at this point is claiming that all here is not as it’s being reported, and certainly the main thing is to find and recover our service members. But the odd circumstances can’t help but raise some questions.

[Note: This article was written by Derrick Wilburn]

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