Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Bodies found on flooded US warship after collision

A number of bodies have been found on a flooded US warship after 10 sailors went missing when it collided with an oil tanker in south-east Asian waters, the US Pacific Fleet said.

Navy and Marine Corps divers entered flooded compartments on the USS John S McCain after the collision happened east of Singapore at daybreak on Monday.

The collision tore a gaping hole in the McCain's left rear hull and flooded compartments including crew berths and machinery and communication rooms.

The warship is now docked at Singapore's naval base.

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.

Admiral Scott Swift said: "The divers were able to locate some remains in those sealed compartments during their search today.

"We will continue the search and rescue operations until the probability of discovering sailors is exhausted."

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.

"While each of these four incidents is unique, they cannot be viewed in isolation," Adm Swift said.

He said the navy would conduct an investigation "to find out if there is a common cause ... and if so, how do we solve that".

Earlier on Tuesday, the 7th Fleet said the sea search by aircraft and ships from the US, Singapore and Malaysian navies would continue east of Singapore where the McCain and the tanker collided.

Navy Admiral John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, on Monday ordered a pause in 7th Fleet operations for the next few days to allow commanders to get together with leaders, sailors and command officials and identify any immediate steps that need to be taken to ensure safety.

A broader US Navy review will look at the 7th Fleet's performance, including personnel, navigation capabilities, maintenance, equipment, surface warfare training, munitions, certifications and how sailors move through their careers.

Adm Richardson said the review will be conducted with the help of the navy's office of the inspector general, the safety centre and private companies that make equipment used by sailors.

The McCain had been heading to Singapore on a routine port visit after conducting a sensitive freedom-of-navigation operation last week by sailing near one of China's man-made islands in the South China Sea.

China seized on the McCain collision to accuse the navy of endangering maritime navigation in the region.

The McCain and the Alnic MC oil tanker collided about 4.5 nautical miles from Malaysia's coast at the start of a designated sea lane for ships sailing into the busy Singapore Strait.

AP

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph