The U.S. Navy is still searching for 10 sailors after the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with Liberian merchant ship Alnic MC east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca on Sunday, local time.
Five other sailors have been injured, and four of them were medically evacuated by a Singapore Armed Forces helicopter to a hospital in Singapore for non-life-threatening injuries, the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense reported; the fifth injured sailor did not require medical attention.
The USS John S. McCain made its way back to Changi Naval Base in Singapore on its own power, despite a large hole in its port side. No fuel or oil was visible on the water’s surface near the ship, 7th Fleet officials reported.
Search and rescue efforts are underway in coordination with local authorities, officials reported.
Additionally, Amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) arrived at Changi Naval Base and is moored across the pier from the destroyer in order to provide messing and berthing service to the crew members and support damage control efforts on the destroyer, 7th Fleet officials said.
There was significant damage to the hull of the USS John S. McCain, which resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery and communications rooms, 7th Fleet officials said, adding that damage control efforts by the crew stopped further flooding.
Rendering assistance in the search and rescue are: Republic of Singapore Fearless-class patrol ships RSS Gallant (97), RSS Resilience (82) and Singaporean Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark (55); and Singaporean navy helicopters, officials said.
And, MH-60S helicopters and MV-22 Ospresys from the amphibious assault ship USS America are in the area providing search and rescue assistance.
Alnic MC is a Liberian-flagged 600-foot oil and chemical tanker with a gross tonnage of 30,000.
An investigation into the incident is expected.
A family assistance center has been established. Families can call 011-81-46-816-1728 (international) or 243-1728 (DSN on base).
This incident comes just days after the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet announced it was relieving top officers of the USS Fitzgerald following a June 17 deadly crash that killed seven sailors.
The commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief of the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald were relieved of their duties.
The ACX Crystal, a large Philippine-flagged merchant ship, ran into the USS Fitzgerald off the coast of Japan in June, and seven sailors died. It had been reported that the freighter was on autopilot at the time of the collision, but also that the freighter sent warning signals, and that the USS Fitzgerald might have failed to respond to communications.
“The collision was avoidable and both ships demonstrated poor seamanship. Within Fitzgerald, flawed watch stander teamwork and inadequate leadership contributed to the collision that claimed the lives of seven Fitzgerald Sailors, injured three more, and damaged both ships,” the Seventh Fleet said last week.