US authorities tacitly acknowledged there were no survivors, although Aucoin declined to say how many bodies had been recovered until relatives of the dead sailors are notified.
The Navy said it had found "a number" of bodies inside the guided missile destroyer, but did not specify if all seven crew had been found dead in the search that took place after it limped back into harbour. Seven soldiers were declared missing.
"Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the Sailors", Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in the Navy's statement. Please consider contributing to Eurasia Review, as we are truly independent and do not receive financial support from any institution, corporation or organization. It was questioning crew members of the ACX Crystal, which is operated by the Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., and was treating the incident as a case of possible professional negligence, said Masayuki Obara, a regional coast guard official.
"The search and rescue is over", United States 7th Fleet commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin said, describing huge amounts of water that gushed into the sleeping compartments after part of the ship's right side was caved in.
The Fitzgerald is an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer with a crew of approximately 330 sailors. A news release from U.S. Seventh Fleet confirmed that two berthing spaces, an auxiliary machine room and the ship's radio room all flooded.
Aucoin was asked if damage on the starboard side indicated the US ship could have been at fault but he declined to speculate on the cause of the collision.
Live footage shot from a helicopter Saturday morning by Japanese broadcaster NHK showed heavy damage to the mid-right side of the Navy ship, which appeared to be stationary in the water.
Nippon Yusen said in a statement it is collaborating with the ship owner and fully cooperating with the investigation by the coast guard.
The crew stopped the ship from foundering or sinking and got it back to port, Aucoin said. "He's okay. Thank you all for the prayers", Rita Schrimsher of Athens, Alabama, tweeted after speaking with her 23-year-old grandson, Jackson Schrimsher, via Facetime.
The collision occurred about 2:20 a.m. Saturday about 50 miles southwest of the U.S. Navy base at Yokosuka.
The ACX Crystal is a 222-metre commercial container ship that, according to marine tracking websites, was on its way to Tokyo.
"Our thoughts and deep concerns go out to all those directly affected", NYK said.
At around 29,000 tons displacement, the ship dwarfs the 8,315-ton USA warship.