MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The U.S. Navy has released the names of the seven sailors who died when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a cargo ship off the coast of Japan.
The youngest victim was just 19 years old and the oldest, 37-years-old . There are now at least four investigations into the incident.
The impact crushed the starboard side of the USS Fitzgerald. The ship was listing as it sailed into its homeport in Yokosuka, Japan on Saturday.
The commander of the U.S. 7th fleet said the actions of the roughly 300 sailors on board kept the ship from sinking.
“This was not a small collision. It was right near the pilot’s house and there is a big puncture, a big gash underneath the waterline,” said Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin.
The other ship, a Filipino vessel called the ACX Crystal, sustained damage to its bow.
The cargo ship, which is about 4 times heavier, nearly t-boned the navy destroyer around 2:20 am Saturday when much of the crew was asleep and the bridge was likely manned by less than a dozen people.
It happened more than 50 nautical miles South of Tokyo which was supposed to be the crystal’s destination but according to marinetraffic.com, the cargo ship made a U-turn shortly before the crash and was headed in the other direction.
Commander Bryce Benson, the Fitzgerald’s captain, had to be airlifted off the ship. During the collision, he was in his cabin, which was destroyed.
The sleeping quarters for 116 sailors was flooded. Seven died, including Gunner’s mate 2nd class Noe Hernandez.
“He just loved the military. That’s all he wanted to do was be a soldier,” said his cousin Aly Hernandez Singer.
Seaman Dakota Rigsby, 19, was a volunteer firefighter before he joined the Navy.
“To know him is to love him,” said Farrah Brody, a volunteer firefighter. “He was a good, strong hearted person.”
The Japanese Coast Guard has reportedly finished questioning the 20 Filipino crew members of the cargo ship, who were unharmed. The company that chartered the vessel said its thoughts were with the U.S. sailors who died. The prime minister of japan sent his condolences to President Donald Trump.