The US Navy says the bodies of a number of missing sailors have been found in flooded compartments of the USS Fitzgerald.
The destroyer collided with a container ship more than three times its size off the east coast of Japan early on Saturday.
"Divers were able to access the space and found a number of bodies."
7 sailors were reported missing and the ship's captain was among 3 injured crewmen taken to hospital.
The USS Fitzgerald has returned to port with damage to its starboard side above and below the waterline. A US Navy spokesman said flooding was in two berthing compartments, the radio room and auxiliary machine room.
"A significant portion of the crew was sleeping"
US 7th fleet Commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin said the vessel could have sunk and praised the efforts of the crew's for saving it.
"The damage was significant. There was a big gash under the water"
None of the 20 crew members aboard the Philippine-flagged container ship were injured.