SINGAPORE - Singapore is leading search and rescue operations for 10 missing sailors thrown overboard after a United States warship and a merchant vessel carrying nearly 12,000 tonnes of fuel oil crashed east of the Republic on Monday (Aug 21) morning.
Four of five injured personnel have been flown to Singapore.
There were no reports of oil pollution and traffic in the Singapore Strait was unaffected, said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore in a statement.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post on Monday that four of the injured sailors had been transferred to the Singapore General Hospital.
“I hope their colleagues will be found. My thoughts are with their families,” he said.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam said on Facebook that he was saddened by the news.
“I wish those injured a speedy recovery,” he said.
“Search and rescue operations are still underway for 10 missing sailors. I hope they will be found soon. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families.”
The collision happened just before 5.30am, between US guided-missile destroyer USS John McCain and Liberian-flagged merchant vessel Alnic MC, in Singapore territorial waters in the Singapore Strait.
Earlier this morning, a Republic of Singapore Air Force Super Puma helicopter transported casualties from the ship to SGH.
According to the US 7th Fleet, four of the injured were medically evacuated to Singapore for non-life threatening injuries. The fifth injured sailor did not need further medical attention.
USS John McCain was damaged in its port side and requested for tug assistance, said MPA.
Alnic MC sustained damage to its fore peak tank 7m above the waterline. No crew members were injured.
Search efforts are being carried out north of Pedra Branca.
On the sidelines of the Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee meeting on Monday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen expressed his condolences to those injured or missing from the incident.
“Our agencies were activated and taking the lead in search and rescue missions, as well as assisting the disabled USS McCain,,” he said.
“Let me express our deep condolences to those who are injured or missing from this incident, but we stand ready to assist both the USS McCain and the servicemen,” said Dr Ng.
In a Facebook post, he said the SAF has been mobilised as part of a multi-agency search and rescue effort, led by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in a Facebook post on Monday evening that search and rescue operations for the missing sailors of the USS John S McCain was ongoing, and that "we will not spare any effort".
He described the effort as a heart wrenching exercise, adding that "we hope for good news as we continue the search tonight".
The Singapore Armed Forces has deployed two Patrol Vessels, RSS Gallant and RSS Resilience; one Frigate, RSS Intrepid; two Super Pumas and one Chinook helicopter to assist in the search for 10 missing sailors.
MPA has also sent three tugboats to assist.
The Singapore Police Coast Guard (PCG) has deployed four vessels.
In addition, US aircraft MV-22s and SH-60s from USS America have been deployed. Malaysia has sent vessels to help with the search and rescue, its Navy chief said in a Twitter post.
Both vessels are currently on their way to Singapore to assess their damage.
The Republic of Singapore Navy's RSS Resilience is escorting the USS John McCain back to Changi Naval Base, Mr Ng said.
The US Navy ship was making its way to Singapore for a routine visit. Its home port is Yokosuka in Japan.
Alnic MC has been listed on marine websites as a 30,040-tonne, 183m-long Liberian-flagged oil tanker. Owned by Greece's Stealth Maritime, it was en route to Singapore from Pyeongtaek in South Korea.
The US Navy said the extent of damage to USS John S McCain is being determined, and the incident will be investigated. It has set up an emergency family assistance centre for family members of the ship's personnel.
MPA is also investigating the incident.