DFA 'closely monitoring' sea collision off Japan

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is closely monitoring reports of the collision involving a US Navy destroyer and a Philippine-flagged container ship that happened off the coast of Japan early Saturday, June 17.

"The department is closely monitoring reports of the collision that occurred early this morning between a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel and US naval vessel near Yokosuka, Japan," Robespierre Bolivar, spokesman of the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement Saturday.

He added: "We are coordinating with the relevant authorities including the governments of the US and Japan to determine exactly the extent of damage and the number of casualties, especially if any Filipino nationals are involved."

According to latest reports on the collision, 7 crew members from the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald are still unaccounted for.

The Japanese coast guard has sent 5 vessels, two planes, and a team of specially trained rescue personnel to the area, a coast guard spokesman said.

A video taken by Japan's public broadcaster NHK showed relatively light damage on the port bow of the ACX Crystal, a 222-meter commercial container ship that carries a Philippine flag but is listed as owned by Japanese shipping giant NYK Line.

The ACX Crystal was reportedly on its way to Tokyo, while the 154-meter Fitzgerald is based at Yokosuka, south of Yokohama and Tokyo, and operates in the Pacific and the Sea of Japan.

The US Navy and Japan's coastguard said the collision happened southwest of Yokosuka, Japan at about 2:30 am Saturday. – With reports from Paterno Esmaquel and Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.