Seven sailors were killed in the collision and several more, including the ship's commander, were injured. The two Navy leaders were struck by stories of heroism and sacrifice, both by the sailors aboard and their families back home.
The damaged destroyer remained anchored at the U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka, Japan, while an investigation was underway to determine how the collision happened.
"There is nearly no mistake the container was behind the destroyer, though it is still premature to decide which ship bumped into the other", said Tetsuo Kotani, a maritime security expert at the Japan Institute of International Affairs. The ship is named after the country's 38th President, who served in the Navy during World War II. He said route decisions are up to the captains.
Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of the US 7th Fleet, praised Fitzgerald's crew for their "heroic efforts" in the immediate aftermath of the collision. "They are known as the 'Fighting Fitz, ' and the crew lived up to that name".
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The Philippines-flagged cargo ship ACX Crystal was under control of a computerized navigation system that was steering and guiding the container vessel, according to officials familiar with preliminary results of an ongoing Navy investigation. Bryce Benson, and he was briefly unable to get out. Benson and the two others were flown by medevac to the naval hospital at Yokosuka.
Some experts say the container ship, which is almost four times the weight of the destroyer, might have continued on without clear understanding of the collision, noticed some irregularity and returned to the collision site, reporting the collision when its crew noticed the destroyer for the first time. He added that the Navy will review the actions of the sailors involved - including those who drowned - for potential valor awards. They included Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25; Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, and Firecontrolman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37.
As water gushed into the USS Fitzgerald last week, sailors had to decide if they should close off a portion of the destroyer where their shipmates might be trapped, according to a report.
Investigators are examining the ship's movements, including its location, direction, speed and other data to determine the cause of its collision with the USS Fitzgerald early Saturday off Izu Peninsula, west of Tokyo.