The U.S. Navy said 10 sailors were missing and five injured after the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in waters east of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca early Monday.
Initial reports indicated that the destroyer sustained damage to her port side aft. The Navy said search and rescue efforts were underway.
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Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, tweeted, “Our first priority is determining the safety of the ship and crew. As more information is learned, we will share it.”
The collision was reported at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time, while the ship was transiting to a routine port visit in Singapore, the Navy said in a statement. The ship was heading to port under its own power, the Navy said.
The other ship, the Alnic MC, is a 600-foot oil and chemical tanker with a gross tonnage of 30,000. The tanker is about three times the size of the McCain, the Navy Times reported.
The incident represents the second serious collision for a Navy vessel in two months. The USS Fitzgerald collided with a freighter off the coast of Japan on June 17, leaving seven sailors dead.
The Navy last week relieved the Fitzgerald’s skipper and two top sailors of their command for losing “situational awareness” in the hours leading up to the collision. About a dozen sailors in all are facing some punishment, including all of the destroyer’s watch, the Navy said.
The USS John S. McCain has played a small role in recent tensions with North Korea, carrying out a “freedom of navigation operation” on Aug. 10, when it sailed to within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, the Navy said earlier this month.
The operation came as President Trump seeks China’s cooperation in dealing with North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.
The ship is named after John S. McCain Sr., and John S. McCain Jr., Navy admirals who were the grandfather and father, respectively, of Sen. John McCain.
Sen. McCain tweeted that he and his wife were “Keeping America’s sailors aboard the USS John S. McCain in our prayers tonight — appreciate the work of search & rescue crews.”
The ship’s commander, Alfredo J. Sanchez, is a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Commissioned in 1994, the USS John S. McCain is part of the Navy’s 7th Fleet. Built at Bath Iron Works in Maine, it is part of the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed naval forces; its home port is Yokosuka, Japan.
President Trump, asked about the incident as he returned to the White House from a two-week working vacation on Sunday, said, “That’s too bad.”
Contributing: Tom Vanden Brook, Gregory Korte, USA TODAY; Follow Greg Toppo on Twitter: @gtoppo
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