US destroyer collision: Fiancee of USS John S. McCain crew member hopeful of his safety

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

SINGAPORE - The fiancee of one of the 10 sailors missing from an American guided-missile destroyer after it collided with an oil tanker in Singapore's territorial waters on Monday (Aug 21) is hopeful he will be safe and will return home to continue with their wedding next year.

Ms Megan Partlow, 21, told The Straits Times on Tuesday afternoon that she has been notified that her fiance, Jacob Drake, 22, is among the missing sailors.

Her fiance's parents received a visit from a US naval representative at 6pm on Monday (Singapore time), which was about 12 hours after guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with oil tanker Alnic MC in the Singapore Strait, and informed her immediately afterwards.

The two are planning to wed in July 2018.

"I have spent the last 6 months planning a wedding that may never happen as well as planning on moving this December to live with him," Ms Partlow said via Facebook Messenger, adding that she is living in Ohio and that Mr Drake is expected to be stationed in North Carolina from December.

"I just want him to come home safe."

Mr Jacob Drake, a serviceman on board the USS John S. McCain and his fiancee Megan Partlow, PHOTO: FACEBOOK/JACOB DRAKE

For more than 24 hours, American Justine Coleman also fretted about the whereabouts of her son, a 20-year-old who was believed to be aboard USS John S. McCain.

The destroyer is based in Japan and was en-route to Singapore early Monday morning when the collision took place.

Unable to get a hold of her son or through to the McCain hotlines, Ms Coleman turned to a Facebook group for former crew members of the ship: "My son is aboard that ship. Please pray he's okay."

Ms Coleman, who lives in Houston, said she was desperate for any sign that her son - whom she declined to name - was okay.

More than nine hours after she left the message, she told The Straits Times over Facebook Messenger at 11.30am (Singapore time) on Tuesday (Aug 22): "Things have not changed and my heart hurts so bad."

It was a worry shared by many of the crew's family members and loved ones. Apart from the 10 missing, another five were injured.

Another worried mother was Ms Theresa Palmer, who wrote on a Facebook group for members of the ship: "Waiting to hear from my son... I'm sick with worry."

Ms Toni R Greim-Findley, whose brother is on the ship, wrote: "Please send word to us, please. I am absolutely dying."

But around 12.30pm on Tuesday, a single phone call put Ms Coleman's anxiety to rest - and perhaps, others' too.

A US Navy representative had called, and told her that the families of those sailors who are missing or were injured had already been notified - in other words, no news was good news.

The representative added that some sailors may not have access to phones right now.

Still, the phone call came as a great relief to her.

"Now I pray he'll call us soon," she said.