10 sailors missing, 5 hurt after USS John McCain collides with merchant ship

PACIFIC OCEAN - DECEMBER 26, 2003: In this file photo provided by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) is underway December 26, 2003 in the Pacific Ocean. According to reports on June 19, 2009 the USS John S. McCain is tracking the North Korean ship, Kang Nam off the coast of China. (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Todd Frantom/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Ten US Navy sailors are missing after a US Navy guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship east of Singapore early Monday, the Navy said in a statement.

The Navy’s 7th Fleet said the USS John S. McCain collided with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while the destroyer was making its way to a port visit in Singapore. The collision was reported at 5:24 am local time, according to the Navy statement.

A Navy official told CNN the McCain was fighting flooding in several places and that it had limited propulsion and electrical power.

In addition to the 10 missing sailors, the Navy said five were injured in the collision.

Search and rescue efforts are under way, the Navy statement said, with helicopters and Marine Corps Osprey aircraft from the amphibious assault ship USS America responding.

Singaporean ships and helicopters were also responding, the Navy said.

Initial reports indicate the US ship sustained damage to its aft port (rear left) side, the Navy statement said. It said the McCain was steaming under its own power to port.

It did not give information on the status of the merchant vessel.

Merchant marine websites describe the Alnic MC as a 30,000-ton, 600-foot-long oil tanker flying a Liberian flag.

The McCain is 505 feet long and displaces about 9,000 tons. Its homeport is Yokosuka, Japan.

Fourth incident this year

The McCain collision marks the fourth incident involving a US Navy warship based at Yokosuka this year.

On June 17, the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan. That collision resulted in the deaths of seven US sailors.

On May 9, the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain was struck by a small fishing boat off the Korean Peninsula.

And in late January, the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam ran aground while trying to anchor in Tokyo Bay.

All four of the US warships are equipped with the Aegis missile defense system, which has been touted as a possible defense against any North Korean missile launch that might endanger US forces and US allies in Asia.

The USS John S. McCain is named for the father and grandfather of US Sen. John McCain. Both of McCain’s relatives were US Navy admirals. The senator was a captain in the US Navy.

Earlier this month, the McCain carried out a freedom-of-navigation operation in the South China Sea, sailing within six nautical miles of Mischief Reef, one of the artificial islands built by China in the Spratlys.