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Texas Sailor Among 7 Dead in USS Fitzgerald Collision With Container Ship

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Navy officials have confirmed that a sailor from Waslaco, TX is among seven killed in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a Philippine commercial vessel Saturday morning.

The Dallas Morning News reports that 26-year-old gunner’s mate Noe Hernandez was found inside a flooded berthing compartment.

According to the Dallas piece, the Philippine ship rammed into the Fitzgerald’s starboard side 64 miles south of Yakosuka, Japan around 2:30 AM Saturday. Most of the crew were reportedly asleep in the berthing compartment when the ships collided.

According to a report from CBS News, Navy and Japanese coast guard divers were not able to access the flooded compartments and retrieve the fallen crewmen until Sunday. Three others, including the ship’s commander, Bryce Benson, were airlifted from the ship and taken to a hospital in Japan. Benson was trapped inside the impacted commanding officer’s cabin, and officials say he is lucky to be alive.

At a press conference Sunday, Navy Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, said the damage to the ship was all below the waterline. He praised the Fitzgerald’s crew for their heroic efforts to prevent flooding from spreading, which could have caused the vessel to sink or flounder. Because of their efforts, the ship was able to get back to port in Yokosuka by its own power with guidance from tugboats.

Aucoin said he will appoint a flag officer to lead an investigation into the collision. There will also be an investigation into safety protocol aboard the Fitzgerald, and the U.S. Coast Guard will investigate the marine causalities.

Below are the names of the other sailors who died as reported by the Dallas Morning News.

  • Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Va.
  • Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego.
  • Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Conn.
  • Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlosvictor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, Calif.
  • Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Md.
  • Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio

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