The US Navy said on Monday that it had ordered an operational pause of its fleets globally and a comprehensive review of the US Pacific-based 7th Fleet after a collison of a US destroyer and a oil tanker near Singapore early on Monday.
Ten US Navy sailors were missing and five were injured after a US Navy guided missile destroyer collided with an oil tanker near Singapore on Monday, officials said.
The review should seek the root causes of the incidents, said Admiral John Richardson, the 31st Chief of Naval Operations, in a video published on the US Navy’s official twitter account, Xinhua news agency reported.
The investigation would examine the process by which the US Navy trains and certifies its forces that were forward deployed in Japan, Richardson said.
The investigation team would be a “broad and diverse” one, with people inside and outside the Navy, the senior navy official added.
The destroyer USS John S. McCain was sailing towards east of Singapore for a routine visit and preparing to stop in the port when the collision with the the 30,000-tonne Liberian-flagged vessel occurred at 5.24 a.m. in the Strait of Malacca, CNN reported.
The US Navy reported significant hull damage to the destroyer, saying there was flooding in berthing compartments as well as machinery and communication rooms.
A US Navy official said the destroyer had experienced a loss of steering before the collision, but that steering had been regained.
Liberian oil tanker Alnic MC sustained damage to a tank near the front of the ship 7 metre above the waterline, but none of its crew were injured and there were no oil spills, the report said.
Malaysian officials said their ships and aircraft had joined the search and rescue efforts with US helicopters and Marine Corps Osprey aircraft. Singapore also joined the rescue operation for the missing sailors.
The search area encompassed 100 nautical square miles, they said, describing sea conditions as rough, with waves up to one metre high.
In addition to the 10 missing sailors, the US Navy said five were injured in the collision. Four of those were flown to a hospital in Singapore with non-life threatening injuries.
The Malacca Strait, which runs between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, is the world’s second busiest waterway according to the World Economic Forum. Malaysian authorities described the area as very busy, with some 80,000 ships passing through it every year.
The collision marks the fourth incident involving a US Navy warship in the Pacific this year. On June 17, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan. The incident resulted in the deaths of seven US sailors. The Fitzgerald will be taken to the US for repairs.
On May 9, the guided missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain was struck by a small fishing boat off the Korean Peninsula.
And in late January, the guided issile cruiser USS Antietam ran aground while trying to anchor in Tokyo Bay.
Shortly after news of the collision came out, the US Chief of naval operations, John Richardson, tweeted that the first priority was to determine the safety of the ship and the crew.
US Senator John McCain tweeted that he and his wife were praying for the sailors. The vessel was named after his father and grandfather, both admirals in the Navy.
President Donald Trump tweeted: “Thoughts & prayers are w/ our @USNavy sailors aboard the #USSJohnSMcCain where search & rescue efforts are underway.”
The US destroyer later arrived in the waters off Singapore’s Changi Naval Base.