Seven sailors killed in USS Fitzgerald crash identified, two from San Diego
YOKOSUKA (KUSI) — Two local men were among the seven Navy sailors killed Friday when the USS Fitzgerald crashed with the Philippine merchant ship ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan, the Navy announced Sunday.
Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, of San Diego, and Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlosvictor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, were identified as two of the victims. They were trapped with five others in a flooded berthing compartment after the crash about 56 nautical miles off the coast of Honshu, Japan.
The other five Navy sailors were identified as:
- Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia
- Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut
- Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas
- Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland
- Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio
The Douglass family released the following statement regarding the death of 25-year-old Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass.
"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 USS Fitzgerald for the heroic efforts to save the ship and many lives. We know now why Shingo was proud to serve with you."
The remains of the sailors previously reported missing were located in flooded berthing compartments after divers gained access to the spaces that were damaged when USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal.
"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,” acting Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley said in a statement. "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.”
Earlier in the day, the Navy announced they’d found the remains of some of the sailors after divers gained access to the flooded berthing compartments. The bodies were taken to Naval Hospital Yokosuka were they were identified and family notifications were made.
"Our deepest sympathies are with the families of these sailors,” U.S. 7th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin said during a press conference
earlier Sunday. "Their loved ones are what makes this Navy great, so this loss is something we all do feel … Unfortunately we don’t have the details regarding the conditions during their final moments, but hope that the investigation may shed some light on that matter.”
Three others aboard the ship were injured in the collision, including the Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, who was trapped in his cabin after it took a direct hit. Benson and two sailors with minor injuries were evacuated on Japanese Coast Guard helicopters to Naval Hospital Yokosuka. All three were alert, according to to Aucoin.
In a press conference, the vice admiral detailed the crash, saying the damage included a significant impact under the Fitzgerald’s pilothouse on the starboard side and a large puncture below the ship’s waterline, opening the hull to the sea.
"The ship suffered severe damage rapidly flooding three large compartments that included one machinery room and two berthing areas for 116 crew,” Aucoin said. "The crew’s response was swift and effective … Heroic efforts prevented the flooding from catastrophically spreading, which could have caused the ship to founder or sink. It could have been much worse.”
The Fitzgerald made it’s way to port Saturday night under its own power.
"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,” Stackley said.
Both the acting Navy secretary and the vice admiral said attention will now turn to investigating what caused the collision, with the US Coast Guard tasked with leading the probe.
"In due time, the United States Navy will fully investigate the cause of this tragedy,” Stackely said. "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.”
The incident is currently under investigation.