Ten American sailors went missing on Sunday, August 20, after a collision with a cargo ship. The American missile destroyer, USS John S. McCain, collided with a 183m-long oil tanker, Alnic MC, at 10:24 AM (NZT) along the coast of eastern Singapore.
A week later on Monday, August 28, the remains of all ten missing sailors were found. The navy said that all 10 of the men died within the destroyer.
The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 was created to prevent collisions between shipping vessels. Today, 95% of the world’s cargo is transported by ship, and international shipping lanes are more crowded than ever.
However, in spite of these regulations, human error occasionally results in unfortunate events. Just this past June, the U.S. Navy mourned the loss of seven sailors who perished aboard the USS Fitzgerald during a collision with a Filipino cargo vessel off the coast of Japan.
According to Newshub, the USS John S. McCain sustained significant damage to its port side aft. In a statement, the U.S. Navy reported, “The ship is sailing under its own power and is heading to port.”
In addition to the ship’s damage and the fatalities, five sailors were injured. Singaporean tugboats, USS America aircraft, and a series of coast guard vessels participated in the initial search for the missing sailors.
The cause for the collision has not yet been identified. However, since the investigation into the June collision involving the Philippines’ cargo ship, two Naval leaders of the USS Fitzgerald have been dismissed from duty. The Navy said, according to NPR, “Inadequate leadership and flawed teamwork contributed to the crash.”
Whether it was flawed leadership that caused the crash of the USS John S. McCain awaits further investigation. However, this is the fourth merchant ship crash the U.S. Navy has experienced thus far this year.
Regarding the series of Naval accidents, Navy Admiral John Richardson has called for forceful action and has ordered an investigation into the Navy’s operations in the Pacific. On Monday, August 21, Richardson ordered a fleet-wide investigation into the USS McCain’s seamanship. Additionally, the admiral has ordered that all Navy personnel review their own procedures so as to guarantee their safety.