‘Steering casualty’ cited in US Navy collision off Singapore

A “steering casualty” onboard the USS John S. McCain has been cited by one US Navy official as the reason for Monday’s horrific collision with a Stealth Maritime tanker, Alnic MC, off Singapore. The navy source told CNN that the destroyer lost control of its steering while beginning its approach into the Strait of Malacca.

Search and rescue teams spent Tuesday trying to find the 10 missing sailors from the destroyer.

The accident follows on from another deadly collision involving the USS Fitzgerald and a containership in Japanese waters two months ago.

Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations, has announced the entire American fleet will suspend operations for a day or two this week to examine basic seamanship and teamwork. A broader, month-long review will examine the specific problems with the navy’s Seventh Fleet, based in Japan, as the navy has suffered four major ship accidents in the western Pacific since February.

Richardson also told reporters that the USS McCain investigation would look into whether or not the ship was hacked.

The destroyer has returned to Changi Naval Base in Singapore with a sizeable hole on its port side noticeable in images posted online. Stealth Maritime, meanwhile, revealed that the Alnic MC sustained a gash to the starboard side of its bow above the waterline. Its ship is now safely anchored off Singapore for assessment.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the missing US Navy sailors and we hope the injured personnel make a speedy and full recovery,” Stealth Maritime said in a statement.

The US Navy has convened a press conference in Singapore this evening where more details about the accident will be relayed.

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.
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