Missing US sailors found dead in destroyer's flooded compartments

Tokyo, June 18: The seven missing sailors from a US destroyer were found dead in flooded berthing compartments following the warship's collision with a cargo vessel off the coast of Japan, a Navy official told CNN on Sunday.

The Navy's 7th Fleet said the bodies were found on Sunday morning after the ship returned to its base in Japan.

"The families are being notified and being provided the support they need during this difficult time. The names of the sailors will be released after all notifications are made," the Navy said in a statement.

The USS Fitzgerald, a 10,000-tonne guided-missile destroyer and the ACX Crystal, a 29,000-tonne container ship flagged in the Philippines, collided in the Pacific Ocean about 56 nautical miles off the coast of Yokosuka in the early hours of Saturday, the Japanese coast guard told CNN.

The destroyer suffered severe damage to its starboard side, while the container ship sustained light damage. The bodies were taken to a US naval hospital in Yokosuka.

Fitzgerald's Commander Bryce Benson, was evacuated by a Japanese naval helicopter while US military copters evacuated two injured US sailors. 

All three were in stable condition at the US Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, said Commander Ron Flanders, a spokesman for US Naval Forces Japan.

The Fitzgerald is an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer with a crew of approximately 330 sailors. The vessel is 505 feet long.

It completed $21 million in upgrades and repairs in February and is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, the service said.