At least 10 sailors are missing after US destroyer, the USS John S. McCain, collided with a merchant vessel off the coast of Singapore, this morning at 5.24am. The US Navy reported that 5 others have been injured in the collision, which is the second such incident involving a ship from the Navy’s 7th fleet in the Pacific Ocean over the past two months.
The guided-missile destroyer had been heading to Singapore on a routine port visit after conducting a sensitive navigation operation near one of China’s man-made islands on the disputed South China Sea last week.
It is unclear whether the merchant vessel it crashed into – an oil and chemical tanker named the Alnic MC – suffered casualties or damage in the collision that occurred east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.
The US Navy said that the Osprey aircraft and Seahawk helicopters from the USS America are searching for the missing US sailors, with the assistance of tugboats and Singaporean naval and coast guard vessels.
The Malaysian navy and air force have also deployed two ships and an air craft to help search efforts, according to Malaysia’s navy chief, Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin.
The US destroyer is travelling under its own steam back to port, after being hit on its port side, according to latest reports by the US Navy.
US senator John McCain tweeted that he and his wife are praying for the sailors. The warship is named after McCain’s father and grandfather, both of whom served in the US navy.
Two women responding to the senator’s tweet shared that their sons are on board the ship and that they are worried for their safety:
Seven US sailors were killed just two months ago, in June 2017, when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship in waters off Japan. Those who lost their lives due to the collision were found in flooded berths on board the ship after the warship suffered a gash under its waterline.
Just last week, the US Navy announced that the commanding officer and other senior crew will be taken off the USS Fitzgerald, with a dozen other sailors set to be disciplined.