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Japan investigates delay in reporting US Navy ship collision

This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio. Rehm is one of the seven sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday, June 17, 2017. (U.S. Navy via AP)
This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio. Rehm is one of the seven sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday, June 17, 2017. (U.S. Navy via AP)
The container ship ACX Crystal with its left bow dented and scraped after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula on Saturday, June 17, 2017, is berthed at the Yokohama port near Tokyo, Monday, June 19, 2017. The ships collided about early Saturday, when the Navy said most of the 300 sailors on board would have been sleeping, and authorities have declined to speculate on a cause while the crash remains under investigation.(Hiroshi Kashimura/Kyodo News via AP)
The container ship ACX Crystal with its left bow dented and scraped after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula on Saturday, June 17, 2017, is berthed at the Yokohama port near Tokyo, Monday, June 19, 2017. The ships collided about early Saturday, when the Navy said most of the 300 sailors on board would have been sleeping, and authorities have declined to speculate on a cause while the crash remains under investigation.(Hiroshi Kashimura/Kyodo News via AP)
The container ship ACX Crystal with its left bow dented and scraped after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula on Saturday, June 17, 2017, is berthed at the Yokohama port near Tokyo, Monday, June 19, 2017. The ships collided about early Saturday, when the Navy said most of the 300 sailors on board would have been sleeping, and authorities have declined to speculate on a cause while the crash remains under investigation.(Hiroshi Kashimura/Kyodo News via AP)
The container ship ACX Crystal with its left bow dented and scraped after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula on Saturday, June 17, 2017, is berthed at the Yokohama port near Tokyo, Monday, June 19, 2017. The ships collided about early Saturday, when the Navy said most of the 300 sailors on board would have been sleeping, and authorities have declined to speculate on a cause while the crash remains under investigation.(Hiroshi Kashimura/Kyodo News via AP)
A screen shows a news program reporting about a collision between a U.S. destroyer and a container ship off Japan, in Tokyo, Monday, June 19, 2017.  The USS Fitzgerald collided Saturday, June 17, with a Philippine-flagged container ship four times its size off the Japanese coast. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
A screen shows a news program reporting about a collision between a U.S. destroyer and a container ship off Japan, in Tokyo, Monday, June 19, 2017. The USS Fitzgerald collided Saturday, June 17, with a Philippine-flagged container ship four times its size off the Japanese coast. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Damaged part of USS Fitzgerald is seen at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo Sunday, June 18, 2017.  Navy divers found a number of sailors' bodies Sunday aboard the stricken USS Fitzgerald that collided with a container ship Saturday in the busy sea off Japan. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Damaged part of USS Fitzgerald is seen at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo Sunday, June 18, 2017. Navy divers found a number of sailors' bodies Sunday aboard the stricken USS Fitzgerald that collided with a container ship Saturday in the busy sea off Japan. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Damaged part of USS Fitzgerald is seen at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo Sunday, June 18, 2017.  Navy divers found a number of sailors' bodies Sunday aboard the stricken USS Fitzgerald that collided with a container ship in the busy sea off Japan, but a spokeswoman said not all seven missing had been accounted for. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Damaged part of USS Fitzgerald is seen at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo Sunday, June 18, 2017. Navy divers found a number of sailors' bodies Sunday aboard the stricken USS Fitzgerald that collided with a container ship in the busy sea off Japan, but a spokeswoman said not all seven missing had been accounted for. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
This screenshot provided by vessel-tracking service MarineTraffic shows a track of the route of the container ship ACX Crystal that collided with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off Shimoda in the Izu Peninsula, southwest of Tokyo, Saturday, June 16, 2017, killing seven U.S. sailors. The track of the container ship's route by MarineTraffic shows it made a sudden turn as if trying to avoid something at about 1:30 a.m., before continuing eastward. It then made a U-turn and returned around 2:20 a.m. to the area near the collision. (MarineTraffic via AP)
This screenshot provided by vessel-tracking service MarineTraffic shows a track of the route of the container ship ACX Crystal that collided with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off Shimoda in the Izu Peninsula, southwest of Tokyo, Saturday, June 16, 2017, killing seven U.S. sailors. The track of the container ship's route by MarineTraffic shows it made a sudden turn as if trying to avoid something at about 1:30 a.m., before continuing eastward. It then made a U-turn and returned around 2:20 a.m. to the area near the collision. (MarineTraffic via AP)
Damaged USS Fitzgerald is seen at Yokosuka Naval Base, south of Tokyo, Sunday, June 18, 2017.  Navy divers found the bodies of missing sailors Sunday aboard the stricken USS Fitzgerald that collided with a container ship Saturday in the busy sea off Japan, the Navy said.  (Kyodo News via AP)
Damaged USS Fitzgerald is seen at Yokosuka Naval Base, south of Tokyo, Sunday, June 18, 2017. Navy divers found the bodies of missing sailors Sunday aboard the stricken USS Fitzgerald that collided with a container ship Saturday in the busy sea off Japan, the Navy said. (Kyodo News via AP)
In this Saturday, Junes 17, 2017, photo, the damaged USS Fitzgerald is seen off Yokosuka, near Tokyo, Japan, after the Navy destroyer collided with a merchant ship.  The U.S. Navy says the bodies of sailors who went missing in the collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship have been found aboard the stricken destroyer. (Hitoshi Takano/Kyodo News via AP, File)
In this Saturday, Junes 17, 2017, photo, the damaged USS Fitzgerald is seen off Yokosuka, near Tokyo, Japan, after the Navy destroyer collided with a merchant ship. The U.S. Navy says the bodies of sailors who went missing in the collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship have been found aboard the stricken destroyer. (Hitoshi Takano/Kyodo News via AP, File)
In this Saturday, June 17, 2017, photo, the container ship ACX Crystal goes through the Tokyo Bay after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula early in the day. The search for seven U.S. Navy sailors missing after their destroyer collided with the container ship called off Sunday after several bodies were found in the ship's flooded compartments, including sleeping quarters. All of the ACX Crystal's 20-member Filipino crew were safe, said Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., which operates the Philippine-flagged ship. (Shunpei Ishii/Kyodo News via AP)
In this Saturday, June 17, 2017, photo, the container ship ACX Crystal goes through the Tokyo Bay after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula early in the day. The search for seven U.S. Navy sailors missing after their destroyer collided with the container ship called off Sunday after several bodies were found in the ship's flooded compartments, including sleeping quarters. All of the ACX Crystal's 20-member Filipino crew were safe, said Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., which operates the Philippine-flagged ship. (Shunpei Ishii/Kyodo News via AP)
In this Saturday, June 17, 2017, photo, the container ship ACX Crystal with its left bow dented and scraped after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula earlier in the day, is berthed at the Oi Container Terminal in Tokyo. The search for seven U.S. Navy sailors missing after their destroyer collided with the container ship called off Sunday after several bodies were found in the ship's flooded compartments, including sleeping quarters. All of the ACX Crystal's 20-member Filipino crew were safe, said Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., which operates the Philippine-flagged ship. (Hitoshi Takano/Kyodo News via AP)
In this Saturday, June 17, 2017, photo, the container ship ACX Crystal with its left bow dented and scraped after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula earlier in the day, is berthed at the Oi Container Terminal in Tokyo. The search for seven U.S. Navy sailors missing after their destroyer collided with the container ship called off Sunday after several bodies were found in the ship's flooded compartments, including sleeping quarters. All of the ACX Crystal's 20-member Filipino crew were safe, said Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., which operates the Philippine-flagged ship. (Hitoshi Takano/Kyodo News via AP)
In this Saturday, June 17, 2017, photo, the container ship ACX Crystal with its left bow dented and scraped after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula earlier in the day, is berthed at the Oi Container Terminal in Tokyo. The search for seven U.S. Navy sailors missing after their destroyer collided with the container ship called off Sunday after several bodies were found in the ship's flooded compartments, including sleeping quarters. All of the ACX Crystal's 20-member Filipino crew were safe, said Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., which operates the Philippine-flagged ship. (Hitoshi Takano/Kyodo News via AP)
In this Saturday, June 17, 2017, photo, the container ship ACX Crystal with its left bow dented and scraped after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula earlier in the day, is berthed at the Oi Container Terminal in Tokyo. The search for seven U.S. Navy sailors missing after their destroyer collided with the container ship called off Sunday after several bodies were found in the ship's flooded compartments, including sleeping quarters. All of the ACX Crystal's 20-member Filipino crew were safe, said Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., which operates the Philippine-flagged ship. (Hitoshi Takano/Kyodo News via AP)
This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut. Huynh is one of the seven sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday, June 17, 2017.  (U.S. Navy via AP)
This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut. Huynh is one of the seven sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday, June 17, 2017. (U.S. Navy via AP)
This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California. Douglass is one of the seven sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday, June 17, 2017.  (U.S. Navy via AP)
This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California. Douglass is one of the seven sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday, June 17, 2017. (U.S. Navy via AP)
This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas. Hernandez is one of the seven sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday, June 17, 2017.  (U.S. Navy via AP)
This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas. Hernandez is one of the seven sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday, June 17, 2017. (U.S. Navy via AP)
This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland. Martin is one of the seven sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday, June 17, 2017.  (U.S. Navy via AP)
This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland. Martin is one of the seven sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday, June 17, 2017. (U.S. Navy via AP)
This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio. Rehm is one of the seven sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday, June 17, 2017.  (U.S. Navy via AP)
This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio. Rehm is one of the seven sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday, June 17, 2017. (U.S. Navy via AP)
This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California. Sibayan is one of the seven sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday, June 17, 2017. (U.S. Navy via AP)
This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California. Sibayan is one of the seven sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday, June 17, 2017. (U.S. Navy via AP)
This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia. Rigsby is one of the seven sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday, June 17, 2017. (U.S. Navy via AP)
This undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, Monday, June 19, 2017, shows Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia. Rigsby is one of the seven sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday, June 17, 2017. (U.S. Navy via AP)
This screenshot provided by vessel-tracking service MarineTraffic shows a track of the route of the container ship ACX Crystal that collided with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off Shimoda in the Izu Peninsula, southwest of Tokyo, Saturday, June 16, 2017, killing seven U.S. sailors. The track of the container ship's route by MarineTraffic shows it made a sudden turn as if trying to avoid something at about 1:30 a.m., before continuing eastward. It then made a U-turn and returned around 2:20 a.m. to the area near the collision. (MarineTraffic via AP)
This screenshot provided by vessel-tracking service MarineTraffic shows a track of the route of the container ship ACX Crystal that collided with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off Shimoda in the Izu Peninsula, southwest of Tokyo, Saturday, June 16, 2017, killing seven U.S. sailors. The track of the container ship's route by MarineTraffic shows it made a sudden turn as if trying to avoid something at about 1:30 a.m., before continuing eastward. It then made a U-turn and returned around 2:20 a.m. to the area near the collision. (MarineTraffic via AP)
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Monday, June 19, 2017 02:37 pm

TOKYO Japan's coast guard is investigating why it took nearly an hour for a deadly collision between a U.S. Navy destroyer and a container ship to be reported.

A coast guard official said Monday they are trying to find out what the crew of the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal was doing before reporting the collision off Japan's coast to authorities 50 minutes later.

The ACX Crystal collided with the USS Fitzgerald off Japan's coast, killing seven of the destroyer's crew of nearly 300. The ships collided early Saturday morning, when the Navy said most of the 300 sailors on board would have been sleeping. Authorities have declined to speculate on a cause while the crash remains under investigation.

A track of the much-larger container ship's route by MarineTraffic, a vessel-tracking service, shows it made a sudden turn as if trying to avoid something at about 1:30 a.m., before continuing eastward. It then made a U-turn and returned around 2:30 a.m. to the area near the collision.

The coast guard initially said the collision occurred at 2:20 a.m. because the Philippine ship had reported it at 2:25 a.m. and said it just happened. After interviewing Filipino crewmembers, the coast guard has changed the collision time to 1:30 a.m.

Coast guard official Tetsuya Tanaka said they are trying to resolve what happened during the 50 minutes.

He said officials are planning to get hold of a device with communication records to examine further details of the crash. Japan's Transport Safety Board also started an accident investigation on Sunday.

Adding to the confusion, a U.S. Navy official said it is sticking with the 2:20 a.m. timing for the crash that he said had been reported by the Fitzgerald.

Asked about the earlier time cited by the coast guard, Navy spokesman Cmdr. Ron Flanders said, "That is not our understanding." He said any differences would have to be clarified in the investigation.

Nanami Meguro, a spokeswoman for NYK Line, the ship's operator, agreed with the earlier timing.

Meguro said the ship was "operating as usual" until the collision at 1:30 a.m., as shown on a ship tracking service that the company uses. She said the ship reported to the coast guard at 2:25 a.m., but she could not provide details about what the ship was doing for nearly an hour.

"Because it was in an emergency, the crewmembers may not have been able to place a call," she said.

Coast guard officials are investigating the case as possible professional negligence, but no criminal charges have been pressed so far.

On Monday, the Navy's 7th Fleet identified the seven sailors who died. Navy divers recovered the bodies after the severely damaged Fitzgerald returned to the fleet's home in Yokosuka, Japan, with assistance from tug boats.

The victims were Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut; Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland; and Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump and the entire administration was sending their thoughts and prayers to the sailors' families. The incident was a "sobering reminder of the dangers" faced by the men and women of the U.S. military every day, Spicer said.

In a statement, acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley said, "We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our fellow shipmates. ... As details emerge, we can all be proud of the heroic effort by the crew to tend to the needs of those injured and save the ship from further damage while returning safely to port."

He thanked "our Japanese allies" for their swift assistance, and said the Navy will fully investigate the cause.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy ordered flags flown at half-staff there in memory of Huynh.

Huynh's sister, Lan Huynh, told WVIT-TV that the family is coping as best they can.

She described her brother as "selfless" and said he always "had the brightest smile."

The mother of another sailor on the ship said her son kept diving in his flooded berth after the crash to try to save his shipmates until it began running out of air pockets, while other survivors believing their ship was under attack hurried to man the guns.

Mia Sykes of Raleigh, North Carolina, told The Associated Press on Sunday that her 19-year-old son, Brayden Harden, was knocked out of his bunk by the impact and water immediately began filling the berth.

Sykes said her son told her that four men in his berth died, including those sleeping on bunks above and below him, while three died in the berth above his.

She said she hopes her son, from Herrin, Illinois, can come home to be with family as he works through what happened. "You have to realize most of them are 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds living with guilt. But I told him, 'There's a reason you're still here and make that count.'"

___

Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama contributed to this story.

                  

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