Navy Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, addressed the collision of the USS Fitzgerald with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal in the Philippine Sea on Sunday, calling the crew’s efforts in the hours following the incident “heroic.”
According to Admiral Aucoin, the crew’s response “was swift and effective, and I want to point out — as we stand by the ship — how proud I am of them.”
At approximately 2:30AM local time, the ACX Crystal collided with the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer on its starboard, or right hand, side. The impact caused serious damage under the ship’s pilot house and produced a large puncture in the hull that resulted in serious flooding in three large compartments, including two berthing areas that house the ship’s 116-member crew. The commanding officer’s cabin was also directly hit, causing serious injuries to Navy Cmdr. Bryce Benson. He was among the three sailors airlifted from the vessel to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka for treatment after the collision.
Seven sailors lost their lives in the incident.