The commander of the Pacific Fleet told reporters at Changi Naval Base in Singapore today that the remains of “some” of the 10 missing sailors after Monday’s collision with an oil tanker have been located in a compartment of the USS John S. McCain.
The U.S. ship, named after both the grandfather and father of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), was heading to Singapore for a routine port visit, a statement from the 7th Fleet said, and sustained “significant hull damage that resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms. Damage control efforts by the crew halted further flooding at sea.”
Alnic MC, the merchant ship that left a gaping hole in the U.S. ship, is a Liberian-flagged 600-foot oil and chemical tanker.
Malaysia and Singapore are assisting in the search for the missing U.S. seamen by water, with U.S. air support. The Royal Malaysian found another body in the water while executing search and rescue assistance east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.
Adm. Scott Swift said the bodies on the ship were discovered by divers performing recovery operations inside.
Swift did not say how many sailors remain missing, but said locating them is Pacific Command’s main focus.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of those sailors and the families of our sailors who were injured,” he said.
“While the search and rescue efforts continue, I sincerely thank our Singapore partners, our Malaysian partners and everyone who has responded with urgency, compassion and tireless commitment.”
The Navy is investigating this collision and others this year in the Pacific, including the USS Fitzgerald colliding with a Philippine-flagged cargo ship southwest of Japan in June; seven sailors were killed.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the sailors that were lost in this incident. And I can assure you that, at the president’s direction, our Navy is going to take the opportunity of this pause in operation to fully evaluate our training, our training processes,” Vice President Mike Pence told Fox this morning.
“To have this happen several times since the first of this year, collisions in two instances which have cost the lives of our sailors, just unacceptable,” he added. “And we’ll get to the bottom of it, but right now our hearts are with the families of those that are lost. We honor them and we’ll have them in our hearts and prayers.”