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Navy Sailors Found Dead After US Destroyer’s Fatal Collision With Tanker

REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter

Several American sailors lost their lives Monday in a tragic accident at sea, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet revealed Tuesday.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker, the Alnic MC, in waters east of Singapore early Monday. The tanker was several times larger than the destroyer, and was able to puncture the hull, punching a hole in the port side of the American warship.

While the crew fought flooding in multiple compartments, the U.S. Navy, together with its regional partners, carried out search and rescue operations for 10 missing sailors. Injured crew members were treated by medical staff nearby.

Divers found “some remains” of fallen sailors inside the destroyer, Adm. Scott Swift explained at a press conference Tuesday at the Changi Naval Base in Singapore, where the USS John S. McCain is currently moored. The Malaysian Royal Navy has reportedly found a body at sea, but it is unclear at this time whether or not it is one of the sailors from the crash.

Swift said it was “premature” to say how many bodies have been found.

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of those sailors and the families of our sailors who were injured,” Swift said Tuesday.

The latest accident follows a tragic incident in which seven U.S. Navy sailors were killed when a container vessel slammed into the side of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald near Japan in June.

The Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel in May, and in January, the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam ran aground in Tokyo Bay.

“One tragedy like this is one too many and while each of these four events is unique, they cannot be viewed in isolation,” Swift said Tuesday. “This trend demands more forceful action,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said in a video released online Monday. “I have directed an operational pause be taken in all of our fleets around the world.”

The Navy is conducting multiple investigations and reviews into these accidents.

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