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7 sailors found dead after collision of USS Aegis

Posted June. 19, 2017 07:12,   

Updated June. 19, 2017 07:40


Seven crew members of USS Aegis were dead following a collision with a Philippine container ship in waters off Japan. The U.S. guided missile-destroyer had suffered considerable damage to its right side as well as its radar, core defense system against North Korean missiles. Hence, it appears that it would take much time for the U.S. destroyer to fulfil its mission as usual.

The USS Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine container ship (he ACX Crystal) off the sea 20 kilometers away from Shizuoka Prefecture, Izu Peninsula early on Saturday. The merchant vessel suffered a minor damage on the left front side but the destroyer had a huge gash down the right-hand side and partially dented. Seven crew members were found dead and three injured including the commander among 300 embarked personnel. The seven sailors were first left missing but rescue workers found the bodies while searching the ship.

The Navy ship managed to slowly return to its base in Yokosuka with the assistance of two U.S. Navy tug boats while flooding. The container ship arrived in Tokyo as planned with no significant damage.

The reason why the Navy destroyer suffered considerable damage comparing to the merchant vessel with no major harm is because of the point of collision. The bow section of the container ship collided with the right-hand side of the Aegis destroyer. The middle section is relatively vulnerable as thick steel plates are placed around the front and end of a ship. Also, the difference in size between the two did matter.

There are concerns that the defense system against North Korean missiles will be hindered as a core component of "SPY1 radar" of the U.S. destroyer was significantly damaged after the crush. There are only 11 Ageis-equipped ships designed to track and detect ballistic missile including the U.S. 7th Fleet and the Maritime Self-Defense Forces. The Yomiuri Shimbun reported, “The number of vessels that can actually operate in the East Sea is limited as most carriers were away for months due to routine inspections, trainings and etc. Hence, the collision may cause tremendous damage to the U.S.-Japan security.”

Won-Jae Jang peacechaos@donga.com · Ja-Ryong Koo bonhong@donga.com