Singapore leaders offer condolences over USS John S McCain deaths

Navy personnel with a body bag containing the remains of one of the missing sailors from the US guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain off the coast of Malaysia on Aug 22, 2017
Navy personnel with a body bag containing the remains of one of the missing sailors from the US guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain off the coast of Malaysia on Aug 22, 2017 PHOTO: EPA

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and two other Cabinet ministers expressed their condolences on Wednesday (Aug 23), following a fatal collision involving United States guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain in Singapore territorial waters.

"I was deeply saddened by the loss of lives following the collision between the United States Navy destroyer, the USS John S McCain, and a merchant vessel east of Singapore on 21 August 2017," PM Lee wrote in his letter to US President Donald Trump.

"On behalf of the Government of Singapore, I offer my condolences to the victims and their loved ones," he added.

Conveying their condolences separately to their US counterparts - Secretary of Defence James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson - Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan have pledged to render assistance and support to the US Navy and US service personnel.

Ships and aircraft from five nations - Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the US and Australia - were searching for missing US sailors near the site where USS John S McCain crashed with a bigger vessel, the Alnic MC oil tanker, in the early hours.

Five people were injured and 10 crew members of the US destroyer were initially reported missing soon after the incident.

On Tuesday (Aug 22), US Navy and Marine Divers found human remains inside sealed sections of the damaged hull of the US warship, which is now moored at Singapore's Changi Naval Base.

Another body, found by the Royal Malaysian Navy about eight nautical miles northwest of the collision site, has been handed over to the US Navy for identification.