“Heartbreak:” Commanding officer injured on USS Fitzgerald is WI native, MU grad

MILWAUKEE -- The USS Fitzgerald has returned to port after a devastating crash near Japan Friday, June 16th. As the search for seven missing U.S. sailors continued Saturday, we learned a commanding officer on the ship is from Wisconsin -- a Green Bay native, and graduate of Marquette University.

The Navy's 7th Fleet said searchers found the bodies of all seven missing sailors Sunday morning after the ship returned to its base in Japan.

"The families are being notified and being provided the support they need during this difficult time. The names of the sailors will be released after all notifications are made," the Navy said in a statement without specifying the number of bodies that had been recovered.

The 10,000-ton guided-missile destroyer and the ACX Crystal, a 29,000-ton container ship flagged in the Philippines, collided early Saturday local time, officials said.

The destroyer suffered severe damage to its starboard side, while the container ship sustained light damage.

Naval commanders praised the sailors for containing flooding caused by the collision, stabilizing the ship and sailing it back to port at the US naval base in Yokosuka, where divers inspected its damage and developed a plan for repairs and inspection. The ship had left the base Friday for routine operations.

The bodies were taken to a US naval hospital in Yokosuka.

Fitzgerald's commander, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, a Green Bay native and Marquette University graduate was evacuated by a Japanese naval helicopter while US military copters evacuated two injured US sailors. All three were in stable condition at the US Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, said Cmdr. Ron Flanders, a spokesman for US Naval Forces Japan.

USS Fitzgerald

"Heartbreak and something like that, as far as I'm aware, hasn't happened in a long time," Max Cormier said.

Max Cormier

Major concern is being felt on U.S. soil -- including here in Wisconsin.

"I feel very empathetic and sorry," Cormier said.

Cormier, on Marquette University's campus, said thoughts and prayers are going out to the victims involved.

"Prayers go out to their families and all their friends and all their fellow sailors who are also feeling a range of emotions right now," Cormier said.

USS Fitzgerald

Bryce Benson

USS Fitzgerald

USS Fitzgerald

Navy officials said Benson is in stable condition.

An investigation is ongoing.