Divers find human remains on damaged US destroyer
Search and rescue efforts continue after collision in Singapore Strait
Divers yesterday found human remains as the search-and-rescue (SAR) efforts for the 10 missing United States Navy personnel of the USS John S. McCain entered a second day.
Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, said divers discovered the remains in "sealed compartments" on the guided-missile destroyer, which collided with oil tanker Alnic MC in the Singapore Strait early on Monday morning.
He told a press conference at Changi Naval Base yesterday evening that Malaysia had also reported the discovery of remains. The US side was in the process of getting the remains for identification, but it was not clear if they were of any of the missing sailors.
Sources told The Straits Times that three bodies had been found and were awaiting identification.
When asked how long the SAR operations would continue, Adm Swift said: "We will continue the SAR operation until there is a determination that the probability of discovering sailors is exhausted."
Yesterday, a report on CNN claimed that the John S. McCain possibly suffered a "steering casualty", which caused the collision.
Other media outlets said there was a possible cyberbreach in the naval vessel's systems.
Asked about possible reasons for the collision and whether there had been a cyberbreach, Adm Swift said: "I don't want to comment on specifics. It's the early stages of investigations. I have heard of these reports of cyber attacks and interference. But I've seen no indications."
The US warship was on its way to Singapore for a routine port visit when it collided with the Liberian-flagged Alnic MC, tearing a hole in its waterline and flooding some compartments, including a sleeping area for crew.
The damaged destroyer arrived at Changi Naval Base on Monday afternoon.
Five US navy men were evacuated to Singapore General Hospital with injuries.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said yesterday that Singapore had received and accepted offers of assistance from other nations.
It added that the search area covered by the Singapore-led effort had been expanded to cover 2,620 sq km, with Singapore and the US covering the centre of the identified search area, while Malaysian and Indonesian ships and aircraft cover the north and south.
The US Navy deployed assets from USS America while diving operations by its specialists to access sealed compartments located in damaged parts of the destroyer are ongoing.
MPA chief executive Andrew Tan told The Straits Times yesterday that no effort would be spared in the search for the missing American sailors.
"In total, so far, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has deployed three patrol vessels, three fast craft, one frigate, two Super Pumas, one Chinook, one C-130 and one Fokker 50 while PCG (Singapore Police Coast Guard) deployed four patrol craft," said the MPA, adding that it had also deployed three tugboats and a team of divers.
It has also been issuing hourly navigational broadcasts to request passing vessels to look out for any persons in the water.
Adm Swift thanked Singapore and the other countries involved in the multinational, multi-agency SAR effort.
"While the search and rescue efforts continue, I sincerely thank our Singapore partners, our Malaysian partners and everyone who has responded with urgency, compassion and tireless commitment," he said.
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