Navy admits USS John S McCain collision was preventable

The commander and executive officer of the USS John S McCain were relieved of their duty today due to lost confidence after the warship and a tanker collided near Singapore in August.

The cause of the August 21 collision is still under investigation but the US Navy described it as preventable. The navy statement said Commander Alfredo Sanchez and the ship’s executive officer,  Jessie Sanchez, were reassigned.

The accident, one of several in Asian waters recently, killed 10 US sailors and injured five more.

The commanding officer exercised “poor judgment,” and the executive officer displayed “poor leadership of the ship’s training program,” according to a statement issued Wednesday by the Seventh Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan.

The navy last month ordered a series of immediate changes in how its ships do business. The changes include more sleep for crews and no more 100-hour workweeks for sailors. Ships steaming in crowded waters, like those near Singapore and Tokyo, will now switch on their AIS, while ships on which crews lack basic seamanship certification will likely stay in port until the problems are fixed.

The USS John S McCain has been loaded onto a heavylift ship and is headed for repairs in Japan.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Not wishing to be funny, but the first lesson we learnt whilst a cadet at college, was “All collisions are avoidable”.

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