Bodies of some the 10 missing US sailors found after collision off Singapore
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Bodies of some of the 10 missing sailors have been found in flooded compartments of the USS John S. McCain, a Navy destroyer that collided with a commercial vessel east of Singapore early Monday morning, the U.S. Navy said.
Ten sailors have been missing since the collision, and the remains of some were found by divers performing recovery operations inside the ship, Adm. Scott Swift, the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a statement.
Remains that may belong to another sailor missing from the McCain were found by the Royal Malaysian Navy as it assisted the U.S. in waters east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, Swift said.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of those sailors and the families of our sailors who were injured,” he said in the statement, issued from Singapore’s Changi Naval Base on Tuesday, where the damaged USS McCain is docked and where the tanker that it collided with is anchored. “The search-and-rescue efforts continue.”
Collision followed by flooding
The McCain was heading to Singapore on a routine port visit after conducting a sensitive freedom-of-navigation operation near one of China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea, according to the Navy.
The destroyer collided with a tanker vessel, the Alnic MC, off the coast of Singapore around 5:20 a.m. local time Monday, the Stealth Maritime Corp. said in a statement.
Reports of the damage to the two ships seem to indicate that they were crossing paths or at least attempting to move in different directions at the time of the collision.
The McCain’s hull received significant damage as a result of the collision, according to the Navy. Photos show what looks like a wide cave on the port side of the ship at the waterline.
After the collision, adjacent compartments on the McCain — including crew berth, machinery and communications rooms — flooded, according to the Navy, which added that a damage-control response prevented the situation from becoming more serious.
Ships from multiple countries searched for the missing sailors after the collision.
President Trump tweeted that his “thoughts and prayers” are with the McCain’s sailors.
Several politicians on both sides of the aisle echoed his sentiment, including Sen. John McCain. The ship is named for his grandfather John Sidney McCain Sr. and his father, John Sidney McCain Jr.
“Cindy and I are keeping America’s sailors aboard the USS John S McCain in our prayers tonight – appreciate the work of search & rescue crews,” McCain wrote in a tweet.
Call for an operational pause
The collision was hardly an isolated incident for the Navy.
It comes only two months after the USS Fitzgerald’s collision with a Philippine container ship in the middle of the night off the coast of Japan. Seven U.S. sailors lost their lives in that collision, and last week the Navy relieved the Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, executive officer and senior enlisted sailor for mistakes that led to the crash.
The USS Lake Champlain, a guided missile cruiser, collided with a fishing boat in the Sea of Japan in May. There were no injuries from that crash. The Navy ship tried to alert the fishing boat before the collision, but it was too late.
The USS Antietam, also a guided-missile cruiser, ran aground off the coast of Japan in February, damaging its propellers and spilling oil into the water.
John Richardson, the Navy’s top admiral, called for an operational pause in the region and “a deeper look into how we train and certify forces operating in and around Japan,” after the McCain’s collision.
“We’ll examine the process in which we train and certify our forces that are deployed in Japan to make sure we’re doing all we can to make them ready for operations and war fighting,” he told reporters.
“This will include but not be limited to looking at operational tempo, trends in personnel, material, maintenance and equipment. It will also include a review of how we train and certify our service warfare community, including tactical and navigational proficiency,” he said yesterday at a press conference.
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