10 Missing, 5 Injured as US Navy Ship Collides with Oil Tanker

Ten sailors are missing and five have been injured in a collision between the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain and the oil tanker Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on August 21.

“Four of the injured were medically evacuated by a Republic of Singapore Navy Puma helicopter to a hospital in Singapore for non-life threatening injuries. The fifth injured sailor does not require further medical attention,” the US Navy said.

The collision was reported at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time, while the naval ship was transiting to a routine port visit in Singapore.

Image Courtesy: Malaysian Navy

As informed, search and rescue efforts for the missing US Navy sailors are underway in coordination with local authorities. In addition to tug boats out of Singapore, RSN Fearless-class patrol ships RSS Gallant (97), RSS Resilience (82), RSN helicopters and Singaporean Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark (55) are currently in the area to render assistance.

Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), which is leading the search and rescue operations, said the crew of the Liberian-flagged tanker did not sustain injuries, while the ship suffered damage to its fore peak tank 7 meters above the waterline.

The Liberian-flagged 600-foot oil and chemical tanker with a gross tonnage of 30,000 is owned by Brave Maritime Corporation from Greece. The 2008-built MR2 tanker was chartered out to Trafigura Beheer BV in March this year for a one-year term, data from VesselsValue shows.

Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to its port side aft.

The navy added it was assessing the situation as its sailors try to control the existing damage on the ship. The incident will be investigated, the navy further informed.

USS John S. McCain; Image Courtesy: Malaysian Navy

USS John McCain and Alnic MC were last reported to be on their way to Singapore to assess their damage. The US Navy ship had requested tug assistance to reach Singapore, according to MPA.

“There is no report of oil pollution and traffic in the Singapore Strait is unaffected. MPA is investigating the incident,” the port authority added.

This is the second collision between a US Navy ship and a merchant vessel in Asian waters in just over two months. To remind, on June 17 the Philippine-flagged containership ACX Crystal, operated by Japan’s NYK Line, and the US Navy’s guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided some 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

The fatal incident took the toll of seven US navy sailors.