U.S. Navy announces fleet-wide probe after new warship collision; 10 sailors missing

SINGAPORE/WASHINGTON,  (Reuters) – The U.S. Navy announced yesterday a fleet-wide probe and plans for temporary halts in operations to focus on safety, as it searched for 10 sailors missing after the fourth major accident in the U.S. Pacific fleet this year.

The guided-missile destroyer John S. McCain and the tanker Alnic MC collided on Monday while the warship was nearing Singapore for a routine port call.

The collision tore a hole in the warship’s waterline, flooding compartments that included a crew sleeping area, the U.S. Navy said.

“Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side aft,” it said in a statement. “There are currently 10 sailors missing and five injured.”

U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said there were no indications so far the collision was intentional or the result of cyber intrusion or sabotage. “But review will consider all possibilities,” he said on Twitter.

Richardson told reporters said he was asking his fleet commanders worldwide for a one-to-two-day staggered “operational pause” to discuss action to ensure safe and effective operations. He envisaged this could begin within a week.

Richardson said a comprehensive review would examine the training of U.S. forces deployed to Japan “to make sure we are doing everything we can to make them ready for operations and warfighting.”

This would include looking at “operational tempo, trends in personnel, materiel, maintenance and equipment.”

The review would be conducted on “a very tight timeline” Richardson said, adding: “We need to get to the bottom of this.”

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