For the second time in two months, a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer has collided with a cargo vessel to devastating effect.
Ten sailors are missing and at least five have been reported as injured, according to the US Navy 7th Fleet, after the USS John S. McCain was involved in a collision with Liberian-flagged oil and chemical tanker Alnic MC.
The collision was reported at 6:24 a.m. local time the morning of Monday, Aug. 21 as the vessels were east of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca.
According to the 7th Fleet, the John S. McCain was transiting to a routine port visit in Singapore when the collision occurred. The vessel, which is 505 feet long and weighs less than 9,000 tons with a full crew, sustained damage to her port side aft upon colliding with the 600 foot long, 30,000 gross ton, double-hulled tanker, which is owned by Marshall Islands-headquartered Energetic Tank Inc. and operated by Greece-based shipping company Stealth Maritime Corp. S.A.
No injuries or spillage have been reported on board the nine-year-old tanker, which like the Navy vessel, was headed to Singapore.
The John S. McCain, which is named after the father and grandfather of the U.S. senator, is homeported at Yokosuka, Japan. It was able to set sail under its own power to Changi Naval Base in Singapore, according to the Navy. Four of the injured sailors were medically evacuated by a Republic of Singapore Navy helicopter to a hospital in Singapore for non-life threatening injuries. The fifth injured sailor did not require further medical attention, the Navy said.
Search and rescue efforts are currently underway in coordination with local authorities.
It was just in mid-June that seven U.S. sailors were killed and three others severely injured after the ACX Crystal, a containership chartered by Japanese ocean carrier NYK Line, collided with U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald in the Philippine Sea.
No injuries were reported on board Philippines-flagged ACX Crystal, which is owned by Dainichi-Invest Corp. and operated by NYK, nor was any oil spilled from the vessel. However, the U.S. Navy destroyer, which is nearly four times smaller than the containership, suffered severe damage and has to be towed back to the United States for repairs.
An investigation by the 7th Fleet later found that the collision was avoidable and that both ships “demonstrated poor seamanship.” Subsequently, the Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief were relieved of their duties, as were several junior officers.
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