US Navy orders pause after ships collide
THE US Navy yesterday ordered a worldwide “operational pause” to reassess its fleet after a destroyer collided with a tanker near Singapore, leaving 10 sailors missing and five injured.
The dramatic pre-dawn accident sent water flooding into the USS John S. McCain, which limped into port in the city-state under escort later in the day. It was the second major accident involving a US warship in two months.
“This trend demands more forceful action. As such, I have directed an operational pause be taken in all of our fleets around the world,” Navy Admiral John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, said in a statement.
A major search involving ships and aircraft from three countries was launched for the missing sailors after the warship collided with the Alnic MC near the Strait of Malacca.
“Significant damage to the hull resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery and communications rooms,” the navy said after the vessel arrived at the Changi naval base.
A helicopter took four of the injured to a Singapore hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening while the fifth did not need further medical attention, the navy said.
The 154-meter vessel could still sail under its own power after the collision with the Liberian-flagged tanker at 5:24am, which was slightly bigger at 182 meters. Two other vessels escorted it into port.
The warship had been heading for a routine stop in Singapore after a so-called “freedom of navigation operation” in the South China Sea, sparking a furious response from China.
The vessel is named after US Senator John McCain’s father and grandfather, both admirals in the US navy.
President Donald Trump initially said “that’s too bad” in response to reporters’ questions about the collision.
He followed up with a tweet: “Thoughts & prayers are w/ our @USNavy sailors aboard the #USSJohnSMcCain where search & rescue efforts are underway.”
In June, seven American sailors died when the destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged cargo ship in a busy channel in Japan.
After yesterday’s incident, Singapore sent three tugboats and four navy and police coastguard vessels, neighboring Malaysia deployed eight ships and was set to send out aircraft, while US aircraft were also involved.
The ship involved in the accident was a tanker used for transporting oil and chemicals and weighed over 30,000 tons, according to industry website Marine Traffic.
It sustained some damage but no one was injured, Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority said. There were no reports of oil pollution.