Seventeen Chinese fishermen were missing Saturday after their vessel collided with a U.S. freighter in the East China Sea, the Kyodo news service reported.

The 40,627-ton President Monroe collided with the Sulianyu, a Chinese fishing boat with a crew of 20, at 4:45 p.m. Friday about 225 miles east of Japan's Amami-Oshima Island, said the news service, quoting a Chinese government report.Japan's Maritime Safety Agency sent three patrol boats and an aircraft to the area of the collision after receiving the report.

Three crew members of the fishing boat were picked up. Thirty Chinese fishing boats joined the patrol vessels in a search for the 17 missing men, the news agency said.

The Chinese report said the U.S. ship left Japan's Kobe port around noon Friday for Hong Kong with a 3,000-ton cargo. There was no mention of injuries to the crew of the U.S. vessel or damage to the ship.