The Japanese Coast Guard said it had received an emergency call from the Crystal around 2:20 a.m., reporting the collision in a busy shipping lane.
Coast Guard officials were questioning members of the Crystal’s crew, and were treating the incident as a case of possible professional negligence, Masayuki Obara, a regional Coast Guard official, told The Associated Press.
The Fitzgerald had recently participated in military exercises with two American aircraft carriers and ships from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, as the country’s navy is known. Ships from the force and the Japanese Coast Guard were aiding in the search and rescue effort, the Navy and the Japanese government said.
“Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the sailors,” said Adm. Scott H. Swift, the commander of the United States Pacific Fleet.
“Thoughts and prayers with the sailors of USS Fitzgerald and their families,” President Trump posted on Twitter on Saturday. “Thank you to our Japanese allies for their assistance.”
The Seventh Fleet said the collision occurred at 2:30 a.m. local time, about 54 nautical miles south of Yokosuka, Japan, where the United States maintains a large naval base.
A woman in Virginia whose boyfriend was on the Fitzgerald spent a tense day waiting to hear of his fate. The woman, Kylie McLendon, a college student in Virginia Beach, said that about 12 hours before the collision, her boyfriend, a gunner’s mate on the ship, had texted her that he loved her. After she heard of the crash, she texted, called and tried to contact him through FaceTime, to no avail.
Finally, on Saturday morning, she got a call from her boyfriend’s cousin that he was safe.
There were no injuries aboard the Crystal, according to Nippon Yusen, a Japanese shipping company that was chartering the ship. The Crystal had about 20 Filipino crew members on board, the company said in a statement.