Seven sailors missing after US Navy vessel collides with ship off coast of Japan

Helicopters, ships and aircraft are involved in the search for the missing sailors

Seven sailors missing after US Navy vessel collides with ship off coast of Japan

The damage of the right side of the USS Fitzgerald is seen off Shimoda, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan, after the Navy destroyer collided with a merchant ship. Picture by: Iori Sagisawa/AP/Press Association Images

Seven sailors are missing after a US Navy ship collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan.

The incident happened at around 2.30am local time, around 56 nautical miles southwest of the US base in Yokosuka.

Quoting the Japanese Coast Guard, Reuters reports that the USS Fitzgerald was "experiencing some flooding but was not in danger of sinking" after the collision.

According to the US Navy, two patients required medical evacuation, including the commanding officer of the USS Fitzgerald. Cmdr Bryce Benson is said to be in a stable condition.

A search operation for the missing sailors is underway, with the Japanese Coast Guard involved in the search.

US Navy aircraft and a second ship will also join the operation, alongside Japanese helicopters, ships and aircraft.

Admiral John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, said: "US and Japanese support from the Navy, Maritime Self Defense Force and Coast Guard are in the area to ensure that the Sailors on USS Fitzgerald have the resources they need to stabilize their ship.

"All of our thoughts and prayers are with the Fitzgerald crew and their families."

Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, added: "Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the sailors."

Official U.S. Navy file photo of The Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman David Flewellyn