US Navy orders ‘operational pause’ after collision

The US Navy has ordered a worldwide “operational pause” of its fleet after a destroyer collided with a tanker near Singapore, leaving 10 sailors missing.

Five other sailors were injured in the crash involving the guided missile destroyer USS John S McCain.

Officials are also conducting a “comprehensive review” of the Pacific fleet following Monday’s incident.

It was the fourth crash involving a US Navy ship in a year, and the second in the past two months.

Navy Adm John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, said in a statement: “This trend demands more forceful action.

“As such, I have directed an operational pause be taken in all of our fleets around the world.”

The pause, which will be staggered across the fleets, will last one to two days and could begin within a week, he later told reporters.

The operational pause and review of the Pacific fleet – which the USS John S McCain belongs to – are in addition to a separate ongoing investigation into the latest incident.

The USS John S McCain was sailing east of Singapore when the collision with the Liberian-flagged vessel occurred.

It was reported before dawn at 05:24 local time on Monday (21:24 GMT on Sunday) and took place east of the Strait of Singapore, as the American vessel went for a routine port stop in Singapore.

The destroyer sustained damage to her port side, which is the left-hand side of the vessel facing forward.

The tanker it collided with, Alnic MC, sustained damage to a tank near the front of the ship 7m (23ft) above the waterline, but none of its crew was injured and there were no oil spills.

At 182m (600ft), the tanker is slightly longer than the 154m-long US destroyer.

US military helicopters as well as the Singaporean and Malaysian navies and coast guards are conducting search and rescue operations.

Malaysian Navy chief Admiral Kamarulzaman said a message had been sent to fishing vessels along the Johor and Pahang coasts to keep a look out.

A Malaysian Navy spokesman later told a news conference: “The waves are between 0.5m and 1.5m, so the sea is quite rough and can be very challenging if you don’t have a life jacket.”

The US Navy said four of the injured sailors had non-life threatening injuries and were medically evacuated to a Singapore hospital. The fifth person did not require further medical attention.

The US Navy 7th Fleet later issued a statement saying the USS John S McCain had arrived at Singapore’s Changi naval base.

The Alnic MC made its way to the Raffles Reserved Anchorage in Singapore.

One crew member of the oil tanker told Reuters over the phone that the vessel sustained some damage to a valve. The ship was carrying nearly 12,000 tonnes of oil from Taiwan to Singapore, the news agency reported.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said: “There is no report of oil pollution and traffic in the Singapore Strait is unaffected.”


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