US warship collision off Singapore raises security alarm in Japan amid North Korea tension

US guided-missile destroyer USS John McCain arriving near the Changi Naval Base at about 1.30pm after a collision on Aug 21, 2017. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
US guided-missile destroyer USS John McCain arriving near the Changi Naval Base at about 1.30pm after a collision on Aug 21, 2017. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

TOKYO (Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network) - Japan's defence ministry and military officials have voiced concerns that the collision between a US Navy destroyer and a tanker on Monday (Aug 21) may negatively affect the Japan-US security system regarding North Korea.

The USS John S. McCain, an Aegis-equipped destroyer, collided with an oil tanker three times its size off Singapore, in the early hours of Monday.

The warship is equipped with a defence system that detects and intercepts ballistic missiles, and its mishap happened amid growing anxiety over a possible new missile launch by Pyongyang.

According to Defence Ministry sources, Aegis-equipped warships of the US Navy's 7th Fleet are engaged in observation and surveillance missions in the Sea of Japan and other areas in collaboration with Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force (MSDF) destroyers.

However, the operating schedules of US warships and MSDF vessels are both quite tight due to periodical inspections and days off for crew members, a senior MSDF officer said.

The MSDF officer expressed concern, saying, "The situation on the Korean Peninsula has been increasingly tense, and [THE ACCIDENT]could hinder the surveillance operations of Japan and the United States."