US divers join search for missing sailors on warship, will check damaged parts of vessel

Remote video URL

SINGAPORE - United States Navy and Marine Corp divers have started searching for the 10 US sailors who went missing after their warship on Monday (Aug 21) collided with an oil tanker in the Singapore Strait, a statement from the US Seventh Fleet here said on Tuesday.

The divers, equipped with surface supplied air rigs, will search sealed compartments located in damaged parts of the ship, and assess the damage to the vessel's hull and flooded areas.

The guided-missile destroyer, based in Japan, was on its way to Singapore for a routine port visit when it collided early Monday with Liberian-flagged merchant ship, Alnic MC, which is more than three times its potential weight.

During the collision, the US ship sustained significant hull damage that resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms. Damage control efforts by the crew prevented further flooding at sea.

Ships from the Royal Malaysian Navy and Republic of Singapore Navy will continue to assist with search and rescue, together with two US Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopters from the amphibious assault ship USS America, the statement said.

Search efforts had went on through the night before to locate the missing crew from the USS John S. McCain warship, named after the father and grandfather of former US presidential candidate John McCain, who were both admirals.

The search is focused on an area east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore where the collision occurred.

Earlier, the US Seventh Fleet said that search efforts would continue on Tuesday.

Both USS John S. McCain and USS America arrived at Changi Naval Base on Monday afternoon. The amphibious assault ship will provide messing and berthing services to McCain crew members and to support damage control efforts on board. Ship repair facility divers have commenced assessments of the hull as well.

While in Singapore, USS America will provide meals, berthing and other support to USS McCain crew members and support damage control efforts on board. These efforts are focused on dewatering the ship and restoring auxiliary systems.

The US Seventh Fleet added that the Royal Malaysian Navy ship KD Handalan, two coastal patrol craft Petir and Pang Alang, two Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency vessels, as well as Republic of Singapore Navy Fearless-class patrol ships Noble Pearl and Noble Knight were assisting in the search.

Besides the US divers, other diving units are supporting in the search. This includes navy divers from Ship Repair Facility Yokosuka and Commander Logistics Group Western Pacific, as well as marine divers from 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit on USS America.

The statement added that "the incident will be investigated to determine the facts and circumstances of the collision".

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.