Remains of missing sailors found in sealed compartment on USS McCain
SINGAPORE: The commander of the US Pacific Fleet said some remains of Navy sailors were found in a compartment of the USS John McCain on Tuesday, a day after the warship’s collision with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters left 10 sailors missing.
Adm. Scott Swift also said at a news conference in Singapore that Malaysian officials had found one body, which had yet to be identified. The focus of the search for the missing sailors shifted on Tuesday to the damaged destroyer’s flooded compartments.
The collision on Monday tore a gaping hole in the McCain’s left rear hull and flooded adjacent compartments including crew berths and machinery and communication rooms.
“The divers were able to locate some remains in those sealed compartments during their search today,” Swift said, adding that it was “premature to say how many and what the status of recovery of those bodies is”.
He said the body found by the Malaysians would have to be identified to “determine whether it’s one of the missing sailors or not.” “We will continue the search and rescue operations until the probability of discovering sailors is exhausted,” Swift said.
It was the second major collision in two months involving the Pacific based 7th Fleet, and the Navy has ordered a broad investigation into its performance and readiness.
Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided in waters off Japan. There were two lesser-known incidents in the first half of the year.
In January, the USS Antietam guided missile cruiser ran aground near Yokosuka base, the home port of the 7th Fleet, and in May another cruiser, the USS Lake Champlain from the Navy’s 3rd Fleet, had a minor collision with a South Korean fishing boat.