Admiral: Some remains found in search for missing crew on U.S. warship

SINGAPORE — Some remains have been found in the search for the 10 sailors reported missing in the collision Monday of the U.S. destroyer John S. McCain and an oil tanker near Singapore, an admiral told reporters on Tuesday.

U.S. military divers started searching the flooded areas of U.S. destroyer John S. McCain for 10 sailors reported missing after a collision between the warship and oil tanker Monday.

Ships and planes have been scouring seas east of Singapore since the early hours of Monday morning local time, when the warship and tanker crashed, injuring five other sailors.

Navy and Marine Corps divers will also assess the extent of damage to the warship, which is docked at a Singapore naval facility, according to a statement from the U.S. Navy.

The incident has prompted the U.S. Navy to order a rare, one-day operational pause in response to the collision, which was the latest in a string of accidents involving Navy vessels — with four occurring in Asian waters this year alone.

“This trend demands more forceful action,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said.

At least seven vessels from the Malaysian and Singapore navies, plus military aircraft from the USS America, are involved in the search in the waters east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, where the collision took place.

The area is near one of the world’s most congested shipping lanes.

A Malaysian official said Monday the sea in the area was “quite rough,” with waves up to one meter (three-feet) high.

One of the missing seamen was named as Petty Officer Logan Palmer in a Facebook post by U.S. Congressman Rodney Davis, who said he was in touch with the missing man’s family.

Of five sailors injured in the crash, four were airlifted to a Singapore hospital by a Singaporean air force helicopter.

The warship suffered a steering failure as the warship was beginning its approach into the Strait of Malacca, causing it to collide with a commercial tanker Monday, a U.S. Navy official said.

The official said it was unclear why the crew couldn’t utilize the ship’s backup steering systems to maintain control of ship.

Earlier, another U.S. Navy official said there were indications the destroyer experienced a loss of steering right before the collision, but steering had been regained after the collision.

The USS John S. McCain has been towed to Singapore’s Changi Naval Base.

The much larger ship it collided with, the Alnic MC, a 600-foot, Liberian-flagged oil and chemical tanker, was towed to Singapore’s eastern anchorage for inspection.

Monday’s collision bears a resemblance to an incident in June involving the USS Fitzgerald, which collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan and led to the deaths of seven U.S. sailors.

In addition, the USS Lake Champlain hit a South Korean fishing boat in May and the USS Antietam ran aground off the coast of Japan in January.

Lawmakers and defense analysts have warned that longer deployments for ships and less time and money for maintenance and training could be playing a role in the incidents.

A news release on the John S. McCain released last week said the crew had completed 350 maintenance and repair jobs while at sea.

At least 100 of those jobs were classified as “depot-level” jobs that would usually be conducted at a ship yard.

“We are not letting this deployment eat away at our material readiness,” said Cmdr. Jessie Sanchez, the executive officer of McCain. “We continue to maintain our upkeep, so that when we come back, we are just as good if not better than when we left.”

While there was no indication the collision was intentional nor was there evidence that the ship was the target of a cyberattack, investigators would not discount these possibilities, Richardson told reporters.

“We are taking a look at all (options) as we did with the (USS) Fitzgerald as well,” he said.

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