Did You Know
Did You Know
SINGAPORE: Ten sailors are missing and five are injured after a US destroyer and an oil tanker collided off the coast of Singapore on Monday (Aug 21).
"The guided-missile destroyer USS John S McCain (DDG 56) was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while under way east of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca on Aug 21," a statement from the US Seventh Fleet Public Affairs said.
The collision was reported at 5.24am, and happened while the US ship was on a routine port visit in Singapore, according to the statement.
Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen confirmed the collision in a Facebook post, which he said happened in Singapore's territorial waters.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is leading the search and rescue operation, Dr Ng said, adding that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has also been mobilised after it responded to the US Navy's request for assistance from the Republic of Singapore Navy.
"From the SAF, two Patrol Vessels, RSS Gallant and RSS Resilience; one Frigate, RSS Intrepid; two Super Pumas and one Chinook helicopter are assisting in the efforts. RSN’s RSS Resilience is currently escorting USS John S McCain back to Changi Naval Base," he said.
A Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Super Puma helicopter transported the injured from the ship to Singapore General Hospital, Dr Ng added.
Four US sailors with non-life threatening injuries were taken to the hospital, while the fifth did not require further medical attention, the US Navy said in an update.
No crew members on the Alnic MC were injured, MPA said in a statement.
MALAYSIA DEPLOYS VESSELS, AIRCRAFT
In response to Singapore saying the incident took place in its territorial waters, Malaysia's navy chief said it happened "in our waters seven miles from Johor coast".
Malaysia said it has deployed its own vessels and aircraft.
In a twitter post, Malaysia's Maritime Director General Zukifili Abu Bakar said: "Singapore also took part in SAR and deployed RSS GALLANT, RSS RESILIENCE and BASKING SHARK to find #USSJohnSMcCain missing crew".
Indonesia's Foreign Affairs Ministry said it stands ready to help in the search and rescue operation if needed. This will need to be coordinated with the Indonesian military, ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir said.
NO OIL SPILL, TRAFFIC UNAFFECTED
MPA, which is investigating the incident, said traffic in the Singapore Strait was unaffected and there were no reports of oil pollution.
Alnic MC, a 180-metre long Liberian-flagged oil tanker with a deadweight of more than 50,000 tonnes, sustained damage to its fore peak tank 7m above the waterline, according to MPA.
Both the oil tanker and the US destroyer were on their way to Singapore for damage assessment, it said.
According to a crew member, the Alnic MC was carrying nearly 12,000 tonnes of fuel oil from Taiwan to Singapore.
"We are proceeding to Raffles Reserved Anchorage where the owners will investigate the matter. There was some damage to the valve," the crew member who did not want to be identified, told Reuters via telephone.
Shipping data showed Alnic MC last sent a transponder signal at 6.58am. The ship data showed it was "ballasting", meaning that it was not loaded full of oil for cargo.
According to VesselsValue, which provides shipping and maritime data, the Alnic MC is owned by a Greek company Brave Maritime and is reportedly worth US$17.36 million (S$23.6 million).
SECOND US DESTROYER COLLISION IN TWO MONTHS
The McCain is the second US guided-missile destroyer to be involved in a collision in two months. In June, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippines container ship off the coast of Japan, killing seven navy sailors. The two senior officers and the senior enlisted sailor on the Fitzgerald were removed after the incident.
The USS Fitzgerald and USS John S McCain are both ballistic missile defence (BMD) capable ships and part of the same Japan-based destroyer squadron. The Seventh Fleet has six ships assigned to BMD patrols, with half of those out on patrol at any one time.
Asked whether the US Navy would need to bring forward other ships to maintain its strength, a spokesman for the Seventh Fleet said it was "way too early to know".
The US destroyer in Monday's incident was commissioned in 1994 and named after US Republican Senator John McCain's father and grandfather, John S McCain Jr and Sr. Both men were highly decorated naval officers who played prolific roles during World War II.
"Cindy & I are keeping America's sailors aboard the USS John S McCain in our prayers tonight - appreciate the work of search & rescue crews," Senator McCain said on Twitter.