Search and rescue crews gained access to the areas damaged during the collision early Saturday about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, and the missing sailors were located in the flooded berthing compartments.
The Seventh Fleet statement said the sailors were being transferred to a United States naval hospital where they would be identified.
Fitzgerald’s commander, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was evacuated by a Japanese naval helicopter while USA military copters evacuated two injured U.S. sailors.
Damages on the Philippine-flagged container ship ACX Crystarl after it collided with the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald sails into Tokyo bay.
The U.S.S. Fitzgerald has been towed into it’s home port in Japan.
Aucoin said that sea water gushed into sleeping compartments and that part of the ship’s right side was caved in.
Crew members from the destroyer USS Dewey stabilized the flooding on the Fitzgerald, and American sailors and the Japanese Coast Guard continued to search for the missing sailors.
Because of the hour when the collision happened, many sailors were sleeping, but the ship had a “full complement” of bridge crew on duty, Aucoin said. The 7th Fleet said the sailors were in stable condition and were are being treated for lacerations and wound at the Naval Hospital Yokosuka.
USA authorities tacitly acknowledged there were no survivors, although Aucoin declined to say how many bodies had been recovered until relatives of the dead sailors are notified.
The names of the missing sailors were being withheld pending notification of their families.
Japan’s coastguard is conducting an investigation into the accident – including interviewing the container ship’s Filipino crew – although the United States has primary jurisdiction in probing accidents involving military personnel.
Nippon Yusen K.K., the Japanese company operating the merchant vessel, said the 20 member Filipino crew aboard the ship was safe.
At the time of the crash, the Fitzgerald was returning to a US naval base in Japan after completing a training exercise with USA and Japanese warships.
The damage to the destroyer suggests that the container ship, the ACX Crystal, might have slammed into it at a high speed. The destroyer is salvageable, but repairs probably will take months, he said.
Three injured sailors, including the Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, were rushed to a naval hospital with undisclosed injuries. “You will see the USS Fitzgerald back”.
The Japanese coast guard said it received an emergency call from the container ship, the ACX Crystal, reporting the collision around 2:20 a.m. (17:20 GMT Friday).
There was no immediate explanation as to the cause of the collision.
“We will update you once the investigation process is complete”, he said.
Navy chief Adm. John Richardson says Navy, Japanese maritime defense vessels and the Japanese coast guard are working to stabilize the badly damaged ship.
U.S. President Donald Trump thanked Japan for its help in the search.