The USS John McCain sustained damage after colliding with a merchant vessel Monday, according to the U.S. 7th Fleet public affairs office.
The American Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer was involved in a collision with the Alnic MC, an oil tanker several times larger than the U.S. naval vessel, while operating east of Singapore, near the Strait of Malacca. Initial reports indicate that the ship suffered damage to its port side. Search and rescue operations are underway. “Our first priority is determining the safety of the ship and crew. As more information is learned, we will share it,” Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations, said on Twitter.
The ship is sailing under its own power back to port while crew members fight flooding in multiple compartments, a possible sign that a decent-sized hole may have been punched in the ship’s hull. The Singaporean navy and coast guard are assisting U.S. naval vessels and aircraft with search and rescue. The extent of the damage is unclear at this time, but the Navy assesses that 10 sailors are missing and five are injured.
The USS John McCain recently took part in a freedom-of-navigation operation in the South China Sea, challenging China’s vast and previously-discredited claims to the disputed region.
The latest accident follows an incident in June in which a merchant vessel ACX Crystal slammed into the side of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Fitzgerald off of Japan. Seven sailors lost their lives in the accident, which was ultimately blamed on the U.S. Navy. That incident followed another accident at sea in May in which a U.S. Navy destroyer crashed into a South Korean fishing vessel.
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