US Navy helping survivors of USS John S. McCain collision regain stability: 7th Fleet

Admiral Scott Swift, Commander of the US Pacific Fleet, speaks at a news conference near the damaged USS John McCain and the USS America at Changi Naval Base.
Admiral Scott Swift, Commander of the US Pacific Fleet, speaks at a news conference near the damaged USS John McCain and the USS America at Changi Naval Base.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Even as the search continues for the sailors missing after their guided-missile destroyer collided with an oil tanker on Monday (Aug 21), the US Navy is working on providing help to the survivors.

Counsellors from the navy have arrived in Singapore to provide mental health support to the sailors, with more on the way.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday morning (Aug 23), the US 7th Fleet, based in Japan, said it is helping sailors from the USS John S. McCain "regain some stability".

The US Navy's Special Psychiatric Rapid Intervention Team, which provides short-term mental health support to sailors immediately after a disaster, has arrived in Singapore.

"The goal is to prevent long-term unit and individual psychiatric dysfunction or disability," said the post.

Other counselling and medical resources are available to sailors and their families at nearby Sembawang Naval Base, and counsellors are coming from Guam and Yokosuka, Japan, to lend a hand.

Other support for the sailors is in the form of 155 beds aboard the USS America, an amphibious assault ship, as well as basic clothes and toiletries.

USS America is also currently providing meal services for the John S. McCain sailors, and assisting with operations aboard its sister ship. Its chaplain and medical personnel are also providing counselling and other support services.

"I see our 7th Fleet leaders and our Navy community responding to the crisis effectively, caring for sailors and families with full confidence that we will learn from this experience and bounce back to be stronger and better in every way," Captain Gary W. Clore, a fleet chaplain, was quoted as saying.

On Tuesday evening, Admiral Scott Swift, who commands the US Pacific Fleet, announced that some remains of John S. McCain sailors had been discovered.

"Although most people will spontaneously emotionally recover, there may be some (who) experience significant psychological distress and may need attention from mental health professionals," said Lieutenant Commander Carlos Coleman of the Medical Service Corps.

"We want to do everything we can to help them manage the stress of this tragic event."

On Wednesday morning, it was reported that the US Navy is dismissing three-star Vice-Admiral Joseph Aucoin as the commander of the 7th Fleet.

The accident on Monday is the third incident involving a 7th Fleet US warship in Asian waters this year, including another collision in June between the USS Fitzgerald and a Philippine cargo vessel that killed seven US sailors. Its cause is being investigated.

 

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