Destroyer USS John S. McCain Collides With Tanker Ship Near Strait Of Malacca (UPDATED)

Details remain sketchy, but the Arliegh Burke class destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) collided with the oil tanker Alnic MC east of the Strait of Malacca, near Singapore. The collision occurred at 6:24AM local time. The John S. McCain had been on patrol in the volatile South China Sea where it actively challenged China’s territorial claims and was heading to Singapore for a planned port visit when the incident occurred.

The Navy has stated that the destroyer sustained damage on her port aft side, and that search and rescue efforts are underway. There is no official statement as to the number of sailors missing, injured, or dead, nor the condition on the Alnic MC. The tanker vessel is Liberian flagged, 600 feet long, and 104 feet wide. Her gross tonnage is reported as 50,000 tons. The ship was launched in 2007.

Alnic MC’s last shown position.,

The collision occurred just over two months after another Arleigh Burke class destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, collided with the merchant vessel ACX Crystal under bizarre circumstances off the coast of Japan, and just two days after the Navy released a harrowing report detailing what went on in the moments after the impact. 

We will keep this post updated over the next 24 hours as more information comes available and as we research the Alnic MC and its ownership.

Update 6:05pm PST 8/20/2017: The Alnic MC is listed by shipping industry site lists the operator of the vessel as Stealth Maritime Corporation out of Greece.

Update 8pm PST 8/20/2017:

10 U.S. Navy sailors are missing and five are injured. The destroyer is heading in to port under her own power. Here are the assets aiding in the search and rescue operation according to the 7th Fleet:

“In addition to tug boats out of Singapore, Republic of Singapore Navy Fearless-class patrol ships RSS Gallant (97), RSS Resilience (82), RSN helicopters and Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark (55) are currently in the area to render assistance. MV-22s and SH-60s from USS America are also responding.”

Here is a map of where the collision occurred according to the Malaysian Navy:

Malaysian Navy

This photo, also posted by the Malaysian Navy, shows a massive hole in the USS John S. McCain’s starboard aft section, below the ship’s Harpoon launch canisters at the waterline. If this photo is accurate, it indicates substantial damage to the ship:

Malaysian Navy

Update 8:35pm PST 8/20/17: Some good news thankfully, the Navy says one of the five injured didn’t have to be evacuated and the other four have safely been medevaced by a Republic of Singapore Navy Puma helicopter to hospitals for treatment. All injuries are said to be non-life threatening. 

Update 11:15pm PST 8/20/17: Here is a better view of the damage:

Update 12:15am PST 8/21/17: The Navy has released more details as to DDG-56’s damage, stating:

“Significant damage to the hull resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms. Damage control efforts by the crew halted further flooding.”

The destroyer has arrived at Changi Naval Base in Singapore and the search for the ten missing sailors is still underway. With so many compartments flooded, the search may not be officially called off until those compartments can be accessed either by dewatering or by divers. 

Here’s a video showing the damage, who knows what it looks like below the waterline:

Update 10:05am PST: Our most up to date coverage can be found here. 

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