Seven sailors lost their lives when the USS Fitzgerald was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time on June 17, while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka.
The USS Dewey, the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force ships JS Ohnami, JS Hamagiri, and JS Enshu, and the Japan Coast Guard ships Izanami and Kano, along with helicopters and aircraft from both countries, rendered assistance, including search and rescue. However, the missing sailors were located in the flooded berthing compartments.
The cause of the collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal is under investigation.
The seven sailors have been identified as:
– Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Va.
– Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from Oceanside
– Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Conn.
– Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas
– Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista
– Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Md.
– Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio
Acting Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley said in a statement on June 18, “We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our fellow shipmates as a result of Friday’s collision between USS Fitzgerald and a commercial container ship, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families.
“As details emerge, we can all be proud of the heroic effort by the crew to tend to the needs of those injured and save the ship from further damage while returning safely to port.
“The Navy family comes together during tragic events such as this and I want to thank those who continue to provide around-the-clock assistance to the affected families during these difficult days.
“I also want to express my most heartfelt appreciation to our Japanese allies for their swift support and assistance at this time of our need.
“In due time, the United States Navy will fully investigate the cause of this tragedy and I ask all of you to keep the Fitzgerald families in your thoughts and prayers as we begin the task of answering the many questions before us.”
One Sailor’s Story
Shingo Douglass, the son of retired U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Stte4phen Doublas and his wife, Ritsuko, attended school at Camp Foster while his family was stationed on Okinawa. He played singles and doubles for Kubasaki High School’s tennis team in 2007 and 2008. He moved to Oceanside and graduated from Fallbrook High School in 2010.
Douglass enlisted in the Navy in 2014. Following entry-level training at Naval Station Great Lakes and in Mississippi, he joined the crew of the Fitzgerald in 2015. Stars and Stripes quoted from a February 2015 Navy news release in which Douglass said that he was proud to serve his country and that it was an exciting time to be in the military:
“I maintain the outside of the ship by sanding and painting, line handling and raising and lowering the rafts … I enjoy being in Japan, working with the Japanese navy and getting underway frequently. The [U.S.] Navy is allowing me to travel, get a better understanding of how they operate while out at sea.”
Douglass’ family issued the following statement:
“We would like to thank the San Diego, Navy/Marine Corps, and Japanese communities for the outpouring of prayers and support we’ve received the past few days. You’ve made a difficult time a little bit easier.
“Shingo was a loving and loved son, brother, grandson and friend. He loved the Navy and was very proud to be part of the USS Fitzgerald crew. He felt a very strong bond with his Fitzgerald shipmates. Shingo was an adventurous young man. He loved to travel, was a certified scuba diver and a black belt in karate, and played tennis. He was also an avid gamer, studied computer game design, and loved to attend Comic Con.
“He was very proud of both his Japanese and military family background. Shingo was born at the naval hospital in Okinawa and spent many summers as a boy in Japan, learning to speak fluent Japanese. He was thrilled to return in 2014, reporting for duty to USS Fitzgerald. Shingo served his nation proudly, and we are also very proud of him and his service.
“We loved him very much and his parents and younger brother will miss him more than words can express. We would also like to commend the crew of US Fitzgerald for the heroic efforts to save the ship and many lives. We know now why Shingo was proud to serve with you.”