President Donald Trump Saturday tweeted "thoughts and prayers" for seven U.S. sailors who remain missing after a Navy destroyer collided with a Phillippines-flagged merchant vessel more than three times its size off the coast of Japan.
In the tweet, Trump also thanked Japan for its assistance:
The president also shared a tweet posted from the U.S. 7th Fleet announcing the ship had been brought back to its home base in Yokusuka, Japan:
Tug boats pulled the ship back to the Yokusuka Naval Base, home of the 7th Fleet and located south of Tokyo, by sunset Saturday (local time in Japan), with its remaining crew members lined up on deck.
Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, along with many family members, were present when the ship arrived, reports the Navy.
"This has been a difficult day," Aucoin said. "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."
Meanwhile, the container ship that had crashed into it was docked at Tokyo's Oi wharf, where crew members were questioned about the crash, which had occurred shortly before dawn.
The USS Dewey, another Navy destroyer, helped stabilize the USS Fitzgerald before joining in with American and Japanese rescuers to search for the sailors. Three other sailors were injured in the collision.
The crash destroyed two berthing spaces, a machinery room, and the radio room, according to the U.S. 7th Fleet. As the crash happened before dawn, most of the 200-plus sailors on the ship would have been asleep.
According to the Navy, it is not known how long it will take to access the damaged spaces in order to continue the search for the missing sailors, whose names have not yet been released. After the ship was returned to its home base, divers began inspecting it and developing a plan for repairs and inspections.
The ship's captain, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was airlifted after the crash to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka and remains in in stable condition with a head injury, according to the Navy.
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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