Australia latest to join search and rescue efforts

Australia is the latest party to join the multi-agency, multinational search and rescue efforts to find the 10 missing sailors from US warship USS John S. McCain.

Yesterday, Australia offered Singapore fixed-wing assets to join the search, which covered an expanded area of 2,620 sq km. The Straits Times understands that the area on Monday was 128 sq km.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said the Republic has received and accepted offers of help from other countries.

Besides Australia, Singapore also accepted Indonesia's offer to search the northern coastline of Bintan Island, as well as Malaysia's offer to send four aircraft to join the expanded search area, including along its coastline. Singapore and the US were covering the centre of the identified search area, while Malaysian and Indonesian assets covered the north and south.

Yesterday, two Republic of Singapore Navy patrol vessels, RSS Gallant and RSS Fearless, were deployed. The Singapore Police Coast Guard also deployed two vessels. To cover the wider search area, the Republic of Singapore Air Force deployed a Fokker 50 and a C-130, with a Super Puma helicopter on standby. The MPA also had a craft on the scene.

So far, the Singapore Armed Forces has deployed three patrol vessels, three fast craft, a frigate, two Super Pumas, a Chinook, a C-130 and a Fokker 50, while the coast guard deployed four patrol craft. The MPA has deployed two craft, three tugboats and a team of divers.

EXTRAORDINARY CARE

The medical care has been extraordinary. I talked to the Singapore fleet surgeon in charge of the sailors' care, and I think the Singapore Government's response has just been extraordinary.

US PACIFIC FLEET COMMANDER SCOTT SWIFT

FOCUS ON SEARCH

The focus of our navy is on the 10 missing sailors and their families.

ADMIRAL SWIFT, who declined comment on whether the incident happened in Singapore or Malaysia's territorial waters, saying that at this point, that dialogue is a distraction.

The MPA has been issuing hourly navigational broadcasts to advise passing vessels of the incident and to request them to keep a lookout for anyone in the water.

At a press briefing yesterday, US Pacific Fleet commander Scott Swift said he was grateful to the Malaysian and Singapore navies for their support, singling out Singapore's medical help for the five injured sailors, four of whom were evacuated by the Republic. "The medical care has been extraordinary. I talked to the Singapore fleet surgeon in charge of the sailors' care, and I think the Singapore Government's response has just been extraordinary."

He declined comment on whether the incident happened in Singapore or Malaysia's territorial waters.

"I think at this point that dialogue is a distraction... The focus of our navy is on the 10 missing sailors and their families," he said.

The admiral also declined comment on which country was leading the rescue efforts.

 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2017, with the headline 'Australia latest to join search and rescue efforts'. Print Edition | Subscribe