Naval commanders praised the sailors for containing flooding caused by the collision, stabilizing the ship and sailing it back to port at the United States naval base in Yokosuka, where divers inspected its damage and developed a plan for repairs and inspection.
In the aftermath, however, the Navy said the Fitzgerald suffered damage on its starboard side, above and below the water line. Cmdr. Bryce Benson was one of two injured sailors who needed to be flown to a naval hospital in Yokosuka, Japan.
The Japanese Coastguard was assisting in the search.
The US Navy's 7th Fleet twitter account says the Navy is working with the Japanese Coast Guard to conduct a medical evacuation of the injured.
The ship-tracking website marinetraffic.com shows the ship left the Japanese port of Nagoya on Friday evening.
The large size of the container ship - it's nearly three times as heavy as the Fitzgerald - may have left the smaller US destroyer vulnerable in the collision, said Carl Schuster, former director of operations at the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center and a Hawaii Pacific University professor.
Nippon Yusen, headquartered in Tokyo and one of the largest shipping companies in the world, said in a statement "We are collaborating with the ship owner and fully cooperating with the investigation by the coast guard". "He's okay. Thank you all for the prayers", tweeted Rita Schrimsher of Athens, Alabama, after speaking with her 23-year-old grandson, Jackson Schrimsher, via Facetime.
"As more information is learned, we will be sure to share to it with the Fitzgerald families and when appropriate the public", read a statement from Adm. John Richardson.
"It could have been worse, so we're grateful", she said by phone.
The collision took place at around 1:30 a.m. about 20 kilometers southeast of Cape Irozaki in Shizuoka Prefecture, according to the coast guard.
The U.S. 7th Fleet said on its Facebook page that the collision was with Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal. It says he was in stable condition. Two other crew suffered cuts and bruises and were evacuated, it said. The port side of the Filipino vessel was damaged, the coast guard said.
Along with the U.S. Navy, the Japan Coast Guard is investigating the collision and has questioned crew members of the 29,060 ton Philippine ACX Crystal container vessel on suspicion of possible endangerment of traffic caused by professional negligence, according to local media reports. The Japan coast guard dispatched five patrol ships and an aircraft carrying medics to the site for search and rescue operations.
The navy said the crash caused "significant damage" and flooding in two berthing spaces, a machinery space, and the ship's radio room.
Aerial footage shot by Japanese broadcaster NHK appears to depict severe damage to the destroyer, which is now proceeding under its own power back to port in Yokosuka.
The guided-missile destroyer collided with a Philippine-flagged 730-foot container ship some 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan around 2:30 am local.
A US Navy destroyer collided with a container ship just south of Japan. The extent of the injuries remains unclear.
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