Singapore

US Navy begins probe into latest collision

The US Navy has begun investigations into how the USS John S McCain collided with an oil tanker three times its size near Singapore early yesterday.

The collision left a gaping hole in the destroyer's side, five sailors injured and 10 others missing.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis said yesterday that there would be a wider investigation into US naval operations that would "look at all factors, not just the immediate ones".

Yesterday's accident was the fourth involving a US warship this year. (See report at right.)

It came just days after the navy issued a damning report listing errors that led to the USS Fitzgerald collision in June.

The navy said last week it would discipline a dozen sailors, including the top two officers.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump, who returned to the White House on Sunday night, responded to media questions about the collision by saying: "That's too bad."

He later tweeted: "Thoughts & prayers are w/ our @USNavy sailors aboard the #USSJohnSMcCain where search & rescue efforts are underway."

While the waterways around Singapore are some of the busiest in the world, carrying around a third of global shipping trade, analysts were surprised by the accident.

Associate director of ship valuation firm VesselsValue, Ms Claudia Norrgren, told The New Paper that it is rare for such accidents to happen in Singapore.

She said: "Collisions in busy waters around the Singapore Strait are actually quite rare, though these waters are part of the busiest trade lanes in the world."

Professor Stephen Girvin, director for the Centre for Maritime Law at the National University of Singapore, said: "I would not expect a collision to occur in this area (or indeed even in the traffic separation zone in the Singapore Strait) as vessels are required to observe the Collision Regulations."

Dr Kirk Patterson, a former dean of the Japan campus of Temple University, said a collision between a destroyer and an oil tanker would be "like an F1 sports car and a garbage truck".

"Which one is going to be able to avoid the collision? An F1 racing car equipped with state-of-the-art missiles," he said. - ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY HARIZ BAHARUDIN

FOR MORE, READ THE STRAITS TIMES TODAY

String of accidents

Yesterday's accident was the fourth involving a US warship this year.

The others are:

  • January


Guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam runs aground, dumping 1,100 gallons of hydraulic fluid into Tokyo Bay in Japan.


  • May

Guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain is hit by a South Korean fishing vessel off the Korean peninsula.


  • June


Guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (above) collides with a container ship off the coast of Japan, killing seven Americans.

accidentSingapore Armed Forcesunited states