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PHOTOS: Navy honors 50 USS John S. McCain sailors who saved ship after deadly collision in 2017

Admiral John Aquilino, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks to the crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destoyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) during an awards ceremony, July 10, 2019 at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. McCain was commissioned on July 2, 1994 in Bath, Maine and was originally named in honor of Admirals John S. McCain Sr. and Jr., in a rededication ceremony on July 12, 2018 the late Sen. John S. McCain III was officially added to the namesake. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William McCann)
July 10, 2019
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The Navy recognized 50 sailors from the USS John S. McCain for their efforts in the ship’s deadly collision two years ago.

A ceremony was held Wednesday aboard the USS John S. McCain to honor crew members and present medals to them in honor of their efforts to save the ship after its Aug. 21, 2017 collision with a commercial oil tanker near Singapore, according to a Navy statement on Wednesday. Ten sailors died in the collision.

Admiral John Aquilino, left, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Vice Admiral Phillip G. Sawyer, right, Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, pose for a photo with award recipients on of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) during an awards ceremony, July 10, 2019 at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. McCain was commissioned on July 2, 1994 in Bath, Maine and was originally named in honor of Admirals John S. McCain Sr. and Jr., in a rededication ceremony on July 12, 2018 the late Sen. John S. McCain III was officially added to the namesake. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William McCann)

“To commemorate on this ship what these men and women did is both notable and fitting, because the memory of their actions represents the toughness and pride of our Navy,” U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. John Aquilino said, according to the statement.

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“It also helps remind the next generation of Sailors the moral character, personal sacrifice, and selfless commitment required to not give up the ship,” he added.

Adm. John Aquilino, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet speaks to the ship’s crew during an awards ceremony recognizing 50 Sailors who distinguished themselves for their bravery and contributions to damage control efforts during the 2017 collision aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), currently berthed at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. McCain was commissioned on July 2, 1994 in Bath, Maine and was originally named in honor of Admirals John S. McCain Sr. and Jr. In a rededication ceremony on July 12, 2018 the late Sen. John S. McCain III was officially added to the namesake. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William McCann)

The ship’s collision was attributed to confusion and lost steering controls, causing it to travel in the path of the tanker vessel, which plunged into the McCain’s side.

The impact was on a berthing area of the ship and 10 sailors were killed.

After the collision, the ship began to flood, and the efforts of the 50 sailors to reduce the rate of flooding are thought to have saved the ship. It was able to return to port on its own power.

Adm. John Aquilino, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet awards Gas Turbine Systems Technician 3rd Class Steven Osenbruk, during an awards ceremony recognizing 50 Sailors who distinguished themselves for their bravery and contributions to damage control efforts during the 2017 collision aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), currently berthed at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. The awards represent all those who distinguished themselves by heroism, outstanding achievement or meritorious service following the ship’s collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC Aug. 21, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William McCann)

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“This morning you will hear about a crew, that in the midst of chaos and calamity, displayed exceptional initiative, technical competence, teamwork, grit, determination, and an unconquerable spirit,” said Cmdr. Ryan Easterday, who took command of the McCain last week.

“Today is about publicly sharing the untold stories of heroism from the collision—the second, more positive half of a painful chapter in the ship’s history,” Easterday added.

Of the 50 sailors recognized, seven sailors received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, 15 received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and 28 received the Navy Achievement Medal.

Adm. John Aquilino, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet awards Chief Damage Controlman Doyle Ebarb, during an awards ceremony recognizing 50 Sailors who distinguished themselves for their bravery and contributions to damage control efforts during the 2017 collision aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), currently berthed at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. The awards represent all those who distinguished themselves by heroism, outstanding achievement or meritorious service following the ship’s collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC Aug. 21, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William McCann)

Last year, at least 48 of the McCain’s sailors and families of victims filed wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits against the owner of the oil tanker, according to the Navy Times in August 2018. The claims totaled an amount higher than $60 million. The tanker company filed its own lawsuit questing relief from liability.

The McCain was undergoing repairs for more than a year when it was released from its dry dock in November 2018 in anticipation of a Spring 2019 return to service.

Last week, another ceremony was held on the McCain to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its commissioning and the formal change of command ceremony that relieved Cmdr. Micah D. Murphy in light of incoming Cmdr. Easterday.

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