Ten sailors remain missing after another inexplicable collision at sea involving the US Navy. The USS John S. McCain pulled into port this morning in Singapore with a large hole in its hull after a collision with a massive oil tanker. This comes almost exactly two months after a deadly collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship left seven dead, and many questions still unanswered:
A frantic search was continuing Monday night for the 10 sailors missing after a collision between a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer and a oil tanker three times its size off Singapore.
The destroyer, the USS John S. McCain, is now at the Changi Naval Base in Singapore, and photos show it has a large hole in its side at the waterline.
The search continues for 10 sailors missing after the collision, which caused significant damage to the hull, flooded nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms, the 7th Fleet said in a statement.
This was the second time in two months that a Navy destroyer based at the 7th Fleet’s home port of Yokosuka, Japan, has been involved in a collision at sea, and this latest incident bears similarities. Seven sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship south of Japan in June, which also led to flooding in berthing compartments.
As the McCain steamed into Singapore, another boat in the area took this video:
Five other sailors sustained non-life-threatening injuries, but four were medi-vaced to Singapore by the Singapore Navy, according to a report from CNN. The search includes resources from four nations and covers a 100-square-mile search grid.
The media almost immediately focused on Donald Trump’s initial response to the collision, which seemed to lack a grasp of the situation:
Responding to a shouted question from a reporter about the incident on Sunday, President Donald Trump said: “That’s too bad.” Trump later tweeted that his “thoughts and prayers” were with those on board.
It appears, however, that Trump may not have been fully briefed on the situation at the time. Either way, that’s a sideshow. The real issue is how two warships in two months could have gotten into collisions in the open sea with commercial vessels. The Navy has not yet released the results of its investigation into what happened to the Fitzgerald, but it has relieved its senior command of duty — actions that had just been announced on Thursday:
The captain of the destroyer, USS Fitzgerald, two senior officers and at least a dozen sailors are being disciplined for thethat killed in June off the coast of Japan.
The captain at the time, CDR Bryce Benson, has been relieved of duty, as were two other senior officers, CDR Sean Babbitt and Master Chief Petty Officer Brice Baldwin. …
The ship’s captain, along with the officers and men on watch that night are considered to have made critical mistakes which caused the collision.
The Navy Times reports that more disciplinary action will be coming. Now, however, one has to wonder whether these two incidents are coincidental anomalies, or a symptom of unreadiness in the Pacific fleet. And while it seems reasonable to conclude that each of these were accidents, the Trump administration and the relevant Congressional committees should worry that these might encourage more malevolent actors to target our ships in a manner similar to the USS Cole.