At 6:24am today, Japan time, the Aegis-class destroyer USS John S. McCain was rammed by the Liberian-registered supertanker Alnic MC in the Straits of Malacca while en route to Singapore. At this writing 10 US sailors are missing and five are injured.
BREAKING: US Navy says USS John S. McCain has significant hull damage; crew berths, machinery and communications rooms flooded.
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 21, 2017
BREAKING: The crew of the destroyer John S. McCain is fighting flooding in two crew berthings and in what's called "shaft alley."
— David B. Larter (@DavidLarter) August 21, 2017
The damage–berthing compartments and the communications center–are identical though, because the Alnic MC was larger than ACX Crystal, McCain suffered more extensive damage overall.
We can anticipate that the bodies of the missing sailors will be located today in the flooded berthing compartments, this was the case with the Fitzgerald.
What remains are a boatload of questions. Unlike the Fitzgerald which was rammed in the early morning hours, McCain was hit shortly before dawn. I’m not a Navy guy, but on an Army installation Reveille and the morning gun would have already sounded and the duty day would be underway. As we posted in regards to the Fitzgerald, there are lots of systems that should prevent this from happening and those systems work pretty well as evidenced by the lack of at-sea collisions.
Also of concern is the frequency with which this type of thing has happened in the Pacific over the past year.
USS Antietam—ran aground.
USS Lake Champlain—ran down a Korean fishing boat.
USS Louisiana—collided with USNS Eagleview.
This is not normal. When you look at the surface combatants available to the Pacific Fleet
USS Antietam (CG 54)
USS Shiloh (CG 67)
USS Chancellorsville (CG 62)
USS Barry (DDG 52)
USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54)
USS John S. McCain (DDG 56)
USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62)
USS Stethem (DDG 63)
USS Benfold (DDG 65)
USS McCampbell (DDG 85)
USS Mustin (DDG 89)
two of eight destroyers have been knocked out of action for a year or more without a shot being fired.
It is a given that the captain of the McCain and everyone remotely associated with the combat information center and navigation just had their careers burned to the ground. No earthly power will save them no matter what an investigation substantiates. But someone should be taking a close look at the leadership of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 because the evidence indicates something systemic could be going on there that is contributing to the McCain and the Fitzgerald collisions.