Ten missing after US Navy destroyer USS John S. McCain collides with tanker off Singapore

Ten missing after US Navy destroyer USS John S. McCain collides with tanker off Singapore

Ten US Navy sailors are missing and five have been injured after guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with 2008-built tanker Alnic MC this morning east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.

The accident occurred this morning at 6:24am Japan Standard time (5:24am local time) while the US Navy ship was transiting to a routine port visit in Singapore. The Alnic MC was headed from the Korean port of Pyeongtaek to Singapore.

The US Navy has confirmed 10 sailors are missing and five have been injured.

“Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side aft,” a US Navy statement said, adding that search and rescue efforts were underway.

Republic of Singapore Navy ship RSS Gallant, Singapore Navy helicopters and Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark are currently assisting.

Alnic MC is operated by Greece’s Stealth Maritime according to Equasis and currently chartered to Trafigura.

Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said the tanker sustained damage to her fore peak tank 7m above the waterline.

Experts have been warning for a long time that the increasingly congested waterways around Singapore are leading to more collisions.

In terms of global sea trade, the Malacca straits are the second busiest waterway, with 40% of the world’s trade passing through it every year. Last year more than 84,000 ships transited this this narrow chokepoint.

Just two months ago, US Navy Destroyer USS Fitzgerald was involved in a collision with NYK boxship ACX Crystal off Japan, killing seven American sailors.

 

Grant Rowles

Grant spent nine years at Informa Group based in London, Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore. He gained strong management experience in publishing, conferences and awards schemes in the shipping and legal areas, working on a number of titles including Lloyd's List. In 2009 Grant joined Seatrade responsible for the commercial development of Seatrade’s Asia products. In 2012, with Sam Chambers, he co-founded Asia Shipping Media.

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2 Comments

  1. Brigstocke Lexden
    August 21, 2017 at 9:20 am

    The collision occurred in the Eastern approaches to the Singapore Strait (not the Malacca Strait). Congested waterways do not necessarily lead to more collisions, but poor watchkeeping and bridge team management does. The US Navy will want to undertake a full inquiry into bridge watchkeeping practices and bridge team management.

  2. Tom Pendergast
    August 22, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    You’re right that bridge watchkeeping and bridge team management need to be addressed. There’s not much digital involvement here; it’s 90%+ human management so I think the probability of “hacking” is pretty much nill. With 4 mishaps in the 7th Fleet since February, I think Admiral Rishardson’s team faces some pretty serious soul searching.
    Both ships were headed for Singapore. Since the McCain incurred damage on the port side aft and the tanker was damaged on the starboard fore side, that means the (more maneuverable McCain crossed directly in the path of the tanker.