Home » Foreign Forces » UPDATED: USS John McCain Collides with Chemical Tanker in the South China Sea; 10 Sailors Missing, 4 Evacuated


UPDATED: USS John McCain Collides with Chemical Tanker in the South China Sea; 10 Sailors Missing, 4 Evacuated

USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) breaks away from the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) following a refueling-at-sea on June 17, 2017. US Navy Photo

This story was updated with a new statement from U.S. 7th Fleet. 

Ten sailors are missing after a U.S. guided-missile destroyer collided with a chemical tanker in the South China Sea near Singapore, a Navy official told USNI News on Sunday. 

USS John McCain (DDG-56) collided with the Liberian-flagged chemical tanker Alnic MC around 5:24 a.m. on Monday local time. The ship is now underway on its own power and heading into port in Singapore at the Changi Naval Base. Five sailors were injured in addition to the ten that are missing.

“Four of the injured were medically evacuated by a Republic of Singapore Navy Puma helicopter to a hospital in Singapore for non-life threatening injuries,” U.S. 7th Fleet said.
“The fifth injured sailor does not require further medical attention.”

The crew is fighting flooding in several spaces on the ship, a Navy official told USNI News on Sunday night. The ship has limited propulsion and electrical power but good communications as it heads back into port. The big deck amphibious warship USS America (LHA-6) is steaming toward McCain to offer support to the stricken destroyer.

“Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side aft,” read a statement from U.S. 7th Fleet.
“The extent of damage and personnel injuries is being determined. The incident will be investigated.”

According to U.S. 7th fleet, Singapore Navy SS Gallant (97), RSN helicopters and Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark (55) are rendering assistance.

MV-22s and MH-60s from the America Amphibious Ready Group are also responding to the incident.

The collision of McCain follows the June 17, collision between destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and the merchant ship ACX Crystal. On Thursday 7th Fleet commander announced punishments for several crew members who were on duty when the early morning collision occurred.

Earlier this month, the destroyer conducted a freedom of navigation operation past the Chinese artificial island on Mischief Reef.

Destroyer McCain is part of the U.S. forward-deployed naval forces based in Japan. The ship is named for the former U.S. Pacific Command Commander Adm. John S. McCain Jr.

The following is the complete statement from 7th Fleet.

SOUTH CHINA SEA – The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21.

There are currently 10 Sailors missing and five injured. Four of the injured were medically evacuated by a Republic of Singapore Navy Puma helicopter to a hospital in Singapore for non-life threatening injuries. The fifth injured Sailor does not require further medical attention.

The collision was reported at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time, while the ship was transiting to a routine port visit in Singapore.

The ship is currently sailing under its own power and heading to Changi Naval Base. At this point, no fuel or oil is visible on the water’s surface near the ship.

Search and rescue efforts are underway in coordination with local authorities. In addition to tug boats out of Singapore, RSN Fearless-class patrol ships RSS Gallant (97), RSS Resilience (82), RSN helicopters and Singaporean Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark (55) are currently in the area to render assistance.

An MH-60S helicopter from the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) is in the area providing search and rescue assistance. An additional MH-60S helicopter and MV-22 Osprey are expected to arrive soon.

Alnic MC is a Liberian-flagged 600-foot oil and chemical tanker with a gross tonnage of 30,000.

Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side aft. Damage control efforts continue while the extent of damage is being determined. The incident will be investigated.

  • Buddy Stewart

    Do we not have any ship drivers anymore?

  • NEC338x

    Oh, for the love of Pete!

    Prayers to the sailors and their families.

  • leroy

    What in hades is going on? This is surreal!!!

  • leroy

    There is some sort of a systemic problem here. We need to find out right away! These preliminary investigations have got to issue new operating directives. Does the Surface Navy need a safety standdown???

    • MAGA right?

      • incredulous1

        This shyte has nothing to do with Trump. NOTHING. To become this F’d up it takes a long time. This probably goes back even beyond Obama but probably grew tenfold just like many other ugly things did on his watch.

        • larryc

          Really. It seems that a lot of people who work for him quite after a few months because they can’t stand it. If you’re serving in the military you can’t – you just become demoralized and lax. I would be, and I’m sure most intelligent officers in the Navy feel the same way,

          • George L

            The military isn’t at all affected by Trump (yet). Have you ever served? The people in charge have come been in for decades and served multiple Presidents. I’m not kidding that no one in the military outside of those in the capital, think about the President routinely.

        • ShermansWar

          I’m sure sequestration had nothing to do with it.

  • Western

    Oh my. Time for some major housecleaning, a stand-down, and back to basics.

    • Rocco

      Agreed

    • RobM1981

      If there was a way to give 10 up-votes, I’d do that here. Precisely.

      Something tells me that when the USNA walked away from Celestial Navigation they did more than just walk away from sextants and compasses. There appears to be some fundamental issues in our sea keeping and ship handling skills.

      Ten missing sailors. Horrible. A very high price to pay for a mistake.

      • ou1954

        Agree. I held 4-5 billets on my destroyer, including assistant navigator. We never got any special training, just learned on the job and qualified as OOD Underway on the job. I just can’t relate to any collision at sea.

        (I admit that the only reason I was successful in the navigator slot was because we had a Chief who could spot the stars before I saw them.)

        • TPF1

          As a SWO for the last 17 years of my career, I question that you “never got any special training”.

          If you went through NROTC, you had Naval Science, shiphandling, and more. If you went through the Academy, you got four years of that stuff, PLUS two midshipman cruises, plus live shiphandling on the YP’s, and more.

          At SWOS (I think they call it “SWOS DOC” now) you got a COMPLETE course in watchstanding, shiphandling, engineering, tactical considerations, and administrative work for Division Offers.

          To get Surface Warfare Qualified, you had additional training onboard, plus actual watchstanding under qualified SWO’s, small boat training, practical factors to complete under the supervisors to get signed off within the Personnel Qualification Standards (PQS) program, and you traced systems, drew out all kinds of systems with charts, graphs, etc., and a rigorous board conducted by the CO, XO, Department Heads and qualified SWO’s.

          If you went on to be a Department Head, you got six more months of specialized tactical training, supervisory watchstanding, admin, engineering, and platform-specific training. You then applied all that knowledge and experience on a daily basis for two sea tours as a department head.

          Did you miss ALL OF THAT?? I’m seriously baffled by your comment.

          • ou1954

            I went directly to my destroyer in Japan after being commissioned via NROTC, so I did get the standard NROTC courses. I did one midshipman cruise in 1953, graduated and commissioned in 1954.

            When I reported aboard in Sasebo the captain said “Welcome aboard Mr. XX. You are electronics officer, your radar is broken, fix it”. I did, it had a frozen rotary joint and the first step was to obtain safety harnesses for my guys, and climb the mast myself. I thought it was my responsibility to do whatever I thought my techs should do. I had the shop (on a tender) machine a new sleeve for the joint. One thing I still remember was how black the mast was from smoke.

            Within weeks I became assistant navigator, ASW officer, Crypto officer, Torpedo officer, and later, Second Division officer. I stood OOD watches in port on day one, and after doing bridge watches for about 6-8 months, became OOD at sea.

            As ASW officer I fired experimental anti-sub torpedos and they hit a cooperating sub. I fired hedge hogs and that hit a cooperating sub. I fired steam torpedos and sank a target LST, just off San Diego.

            Midway through I did go to ASW school, one week, in San Diego. That was the only formal school I attended.

            I was never mess treasurer nor morale officer.

            I may have missed the schools you refer to but we had a great selection of very overworked officers and crew. I am still in contact with two of those officers, saw them in San Diego 3-4 years ago while visiting my children there.

            One more thing, we carried the Squadron commander, and his staff.

          • ou1954

            I failed to name my ships in the note below. I did my summer cruise in 1953 on the USS Hugh Purvis, DD-709. Ports included Trinidad, Panama, and Cuba. That was the summer when 22 of my OU NROTC Classmates were killed in a plane crash. They were on a different cruise. You can look up that crash. We learned of it on the radio and were able to get into the composing room at the newspaper at midnight to see the names.

            My active duty was on the USS Wiltsie, DD-716. That ship was eventually transferred to a South American country and has since been scrapped. The Wiltsie has, or did have, a Facebook group but everyone in that group came far after my time.

            While adding details, I majored in Engineering Physics and had a background in Electronics . . . I assume the captain knew that. In college I was a member of the ham radio club and was on the rifle team, where we beat Texas A&M, then a military school. Astronaut Owen K. Garriott was in the NROTC class ahead of my class.

            If you are seriously baffled, I can only say that things were different in my time.

          • TPF1

            Ok, another time indeed. I was in from ’79-’03.

          • ou1954

            There is still the question of why are things going so bad now compared to the past, including your time. Something is wrong, but we don’t have all the facts, so we shall see.

            Now there were some bad times in the past. I have, somewhere, an article from The Naval Institute Proceedings, dated in the 1955-60 time frame, “Course 095”. Five or six destroyers grounded on the central California coast. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth looking up. I was given a subscription to the Proceedings when I graduated, from an anonymous person “To deserving student. (graduate?)” and kept subscribing for years.

            How did I find little-old-me running the ship at night in a large circular formation, radar and radio silence, only reference was truck lights on a cruiser? We were steaming downwind and I had to get into plane guard position to be ready for flight operations when the formation wheeled into the wind. My resources were the bearing of that light, the formation heading and speed, and a paper maneuvering board. (Do they still exist?)

            When it was the right time I increased speed (Near flank I guess, the carriers were fast) and started getting ahead of the carrier so I would be behind and off the starboard quarter* of the carrier after we turned. I had to pass in front of the carrier to do this. I have written that as I crossed ahead of the carrier, they turned their deck lights on, and I could see right down the full flight deck. (Looking back I wonder how I did that, I think the bridge of the destroyer is lower then the flight deck, but I saw both rows of lights.)

            I have also written that I had cut too close. Now I think I did O.K. and the lights were just an acknowledgement. The captain was asleep but I told him later.

            *That’s my recollection of one of the two-destroyer plane guard positions. Might be wrong.

          • ou1954

            I looked for the article mentioned, “Course 095” in The Proceedings. Turns out it is now available, apparently in expanded form, as a book. Amazon lists it as: “COURSE 095 TO ETERNITY”

            “On the night of September 8, 1923, seven battle-ready U.S. Navy destroyers were wrecked with a loss of twenty-three seamen. In five minutes of nagivational Navy. One of the world’s greatest maritime disasters was pushed into obscurity. Elwyn E. Overshiner’s diligent research and documentation from the National Archives and other sources, some revealed for the first time through the Freedom of Information Act, is in sharp contrast to other accounts. The fog-shrouded rocks of Pedernales Point, an earthquake in Japan, a forest fire ashore, another ship’s distress calls jamming the airwaves, a solar magnetic storm that deflected compasses, legends that imitate the Bermuda Triangle – all have been invoked in explaining the tragedy. Mr. Overshiner does not whitewash the events of “The Tragedy at Honda”, but carefully documents the human decisions that led to the fatal command by Commodore Watson: “Captain, at 2100 hours set our Squadron course on 95 degrees true”. Mr. Overshiner’s account is a tribute to those young seamen, including his own brother, who perished in the line of duty aboard the doomed ships. It recalls the heroism that a cover-up would have denied, and stands as a reminder of the consequences of human error for those disaster more Navy ships perished than in all World War I. For fifty years, the rugged California coast where the young sailors died was unmarked by the U.S. who face the unforviging sea. COURSE 095 TO ETERNITY offers lessons in Naval safety that must be recognized and taught in today’s U.S. Navy”.

            The original article only refers to an inverse direction from a shore-based direction finder as the cause, as I remember it.

          • ou1954

            ..

          • ou1954

            Some more memories. During ASW maneuvers I found that the subs in the game could go faster than we could, considering the noise level on our sonar dome. Although the dome was covered with rubber, barnacles and other marine growth created so much turbulence at any speed approaching what the subs could do that we just couldn’t keep up and still see them. We did get a new scanning sonar during a yard period in LBNSY but we still had the noise problem. The subs would approach us from ahead and get through our formation before we could see them.

            The answer . . I was, at the time, a SCUBA diver. I dove twice to scrape the dome with a paint scraper, one in open ocean, a second time in Buckner bay, jellyfish city! In Buckner we rode out a typhoon, using wire to the dock.

            I remember one interesting thing about the yard availability in Long Beach. The Sonar Shack was next to a fuel tank and they needed to weld equipment to that bulkhead. What to do, fill or drain. I picked fill, and the oil boiled but did not ignite.

          • Bob Carroll

            Seem’s that the Navy doesn’t teach these things any more and have replaced well trained and experienced officer’s with a bunch of video game player’s. What ever has been done to modernize our armed force’s has failed again.

    • Voice_of_Reason

      or maybe an actual THOUGHTFUL investigation into root causes.

      I never found safety stand-downs to be anything other than a bureaucratic cover-the-brass’s-butt kabuki dance.

    • sferrin

      I’d add to that that they stop wasting time on social-justice bullshit as well.

      • larryc

        Right – plenty of opportunities for stewards in the wardroom or mess for “those types”.

        • sferrin

          Spotted the SJW.

      • George L

        How much time do they spend on that? I want facts, not your “feels.”

        • sferrin

          Anything more than, “none” is too much. Obviously they’re not getting enough training on the things that actually matter. You know, like not running into other ships. Given that they’re losing people in these incidents I’d add safety and damage control to the list of things getting shorted for social justice bullshit.

    • RedStatePatriot

      Agreed, 2 ships badly damaged from colliding with merchant ships… this is totally unacceptable, is no one on the damn bridge? Is no one on watch, how do you miss a HUGE ship in open ocean with both eyeballs and radar that automatically warns of approaching ships on intersecting courses?

      There is a Major failure of command here at about every level. Perhaps the US military needs to spend less time worrying about incorporating “chicks-with-d__ks” and more time of fundamental skills. Less time on PC BS and more time on basic seamanship. Less time on “green fuels” and more time on how to sail and fight on the high seas.

      • ignatzthecat

        Ultimately the “failure” is the CO on site. Period.

        • larryc

          Exactly. Somebody is not being trained, motivated, or disciplined. And make them leave their cell phones in their locked, especially when within range of a cell tower.

    • ADM64

      Unfortunately, our priorities are political-correctness, diversity, inclusion, sensitivity, career-time outs and white-washing the pregnancy and frat stats, not seamanship, ship-handling and war fighting.

      • Jim Crotty

        BINGO!

  • leroy

    God please – no loss of life this time. : (

  • leroy

    The Strait of Malacca is one place you never let down your guard. It’s like an LA freeway only loaded with ships. Most of you here know that. Didn’t the crew on the McCain?

    • DaSaint

      They must have or should have. Those straits are busy indeed. However, considering the aft portion of the ship was struck, it may indicate an error by the merchant ship in terms of changing course. That said, those vessels should never be that close.

      • leroy

        Never that close.

        • krankyvet

          Ever!

    • It didn’t happen in the Strait of Malacca fake news. It happened to the east of Peninsula Malaysia

      • NEC338x

        Looked up the Alnic location on my Marine Traffic app an hour after the accident. Where she was DIW was well into the traffic funnel. We were about two hours into Sea & Anchor detail at that point back in the 80’s. Don’t know how far out, or even if, they set S&A these days. Given the benefits of modern technology maybe they’ve shrunk the boundaries.

        • Jim Crotty

          LOL

    • LKW-AVP41

      Was going to say similar, but they were still (reported) in the South China sea – but each end of the Strait must be like a spigot spewing danger and destruction in both directions and drawing in the same as into a black hole.

  • leroy

    Déjà vu via the Navy Times:

    “The McCain’s sailors are fighting flooding in two crew berthings and in shaft alley, which is a space aft of the main engineering spaces where a shafts that rotate the ship’s propellers run through.

    The presence of flooding below the waterline indicates that the bow of the Alnic MC punched a hole in the side of McCain, as happened to Fitzgerald earlier this year. The ship’s propulsion has been limited but it is making way.”

    • George L

      You can have a side to side collision with the same results.

      • krankyvet

        No puncture damage side to side…

        • George L

          While the incident was T collision, you can have outer hull ruptures in a side by side collision as well. Ever heard of the Titanic?

          • krankyvet

            Titanic suffered a puncture wound from a protrusion on the iceberg, the ship’s momentum carried it along and ripped many compartments, dooming the ship. A completely different situation…

  • muzzleloader

    Good God. Who needs to be concerned with the Chinese or the Russian navies? Our own ship drivers are doing the job! Prayers.

    • amy wen

      Maybe somebody payed them allot of money but lesser or more than a missile or two so they would do the dirty job for that someone or some country. So the silly America wouldn’t know how to retaliate. Any way these same thing would happen again and again as long as the America bully flaunt the big gun boat in south China Sea.

      • Donald Carey

        The only bully in the South China Sea is China. If you don’t believe me, just ask their neighbors.

      • LKW-AVP41

        Sounds like a familiar rant that ended in 1945.

  • Joseph Jesse Smith

    This is bullshit. It is unacceptable for a ship that can travel at the speed that Destroyer can to come in contact with any vessel unless it’s running over it.

    • Marjus Plaku

      Really embarrassing for a warship no less. A guided US Navy destroyer should know well in advance who is in the neighborhood and why and should be doing circles around them at will, not getting dinged up left and right, excuse me, like idiots.

      I agree, this is very very poor and dangerous.

      • TPF1

        In that area, there is heavy traffic and all ships don’t have the room to maneuver like they would in open ocean. I’m not justifying this in any way, shape or form though. A collision like this indicates MAJOR problems with competence and training from the CO on down.

    • FromTheMirror

      Bull it is. Literally. There is something else going on here.

      • larryc

        Like what? Likely the DDG maneuvered to port and got struct by the tanker. Perhaps the ship control was driving it and no one was paying attention to the closest point of approach alarm. Airplanes crash into runways, seawalls, and mountains all the time with more automation that most ships at sea.

        • George L

          Actually, airplanes almost never fail while automated. Over 99% of accidents are during manual operation stages.

  • Sam Culper III

    ABCNews is reporting 10 sailors missing and 5 injured.

    • leroy

      Unfortunately ABC is reporting this. I am mortified!

  • DaSaint

    Unreal. Hopefully no serious injuries, and no loss of life, but this is unreal. At this pace, we won’t have any ship drivers. Something is wrong IF this is shown to be USN error. IF that is the case, either our navigation systems are off, or our training is off. There are rules of the road, and they need to be followed by all mariners.

    • George L

      The navs systems are fine. It’s the training that’s gone down the hole and apparently more so in the 7th.

    • ou1954

      I agree with George L. Nav systems aren’t involved in these four recent incidents. It’s the men on the bridge.

  • waveshaper1

    The ALNIC MC (50,760 Tons Deadweight) is still using its active AIS (Google it); Currently the ALNIC is just east of Singapore, heading 310 degrees at .8 knots (its basically stationary). I assume its assisting the USS John McCain.

    • D. Jones

      According to the Daily Mail, McCain left the area and is heading for port. Guess Alnic is remaining on station to help search for the 10 missing.

      • leroy

        Ten missing. I pray that’s a mistake.

        • George L

          No mistake. Likely DC in water filled compartments.

  • bridgebuilder78

    Seriously, WTF, again?!

  • leroy

    Coming so close to the Fitzgerald incident, it seems to me some ADMIRAL should hang! But they never do, do they?

    • waveshaper1

      Someone just might fire the CNO and Secretary of The Navy if the Navy is found to be at fault.

      • Duke

        Sadly, the people who did this to our Navy have already left office.

        • D. Jones

          8 years of Mabus will take time to fix. Perhaps a review of those he promoted and remain is due.

          • Better start blaming Bill Clinton, Carter, Johnson, Kennedy as well.

          • LKW-AVP41

            The dismantling and crash rebuilding and dismantling again has probably taken its toll.

          • larryc

            Mabus was both a LtJG on a light cruiser in 1970 AND he played an Admiral in the “Battleship” movie. He’s plenty qualified for SECNAV. The fact that he stayed for 8 years indicated he didn’t have much else going on in his life.

        • Marjus Plaku

          Look they got rid of those unpleasant skippers, but at least those assholes know how to set up watch and drive the ship.

      • FromTheMirror

        Or somebody is interested in engineering just that outcome “bringing about” these “accidents”.

      • Jim Crotty

        The CNO should be canned regardless. He is an obama holdover diversity sensitive dude and he needs to go.

  • PappyStu

    Two incidents of this nature in as many months will in all likelihood result in a major review of SOPs, on going training process and Command and Control protocols… A wake up call throughout the entire service…

    • George L

      Surface pins will be yanked, careers ended, but the problem is in the culture.

      • Western

        I agree. At least at the fleet level, some admirals need to be sent packing, and Mattis having a tough talk with the CNO. A 24 hour stand down, doubling the watch, less reliance on electronics, and training, training, training.

        • incredulous1

          I am not a fan of our current CNO and have a hard time given the nature of today’s threat that he is still in command. I know Harris is to vital to the Pacific right now, but I would like to see him CNO in the near future if we can replace him with an intelligent tell-it-like-it-is motivator out here.

          On training, I bet they don’t even make SWO candidates do maneuvering board exercises any more, let alone think about tracking evolutions. I wonder how many could even manage a corpen from a line today without messing up.

          • Jim Crotty

            The current CNO is one of those PC Social Engineering guys as was his previous Master Chief of the Navy. The CNO and a bunch of other Flag Officers hand picked by abdullah hussein obama should be fired immediately.

        • larryc

          Fingers point to the 7th fleet for all these accidents. There’s the problem.

    • ShermansWar

      4 this year,don’t forget the US cruiser gushing oil off Tokyo or grounded minesweepers..

  • Rocco

    Is everyone asleep on watch or what!!?? You’d think after what happened 2 months ago we’d be more alert!! What gives??

    • larryc

      Facebook?

      • Rocco

        Not allowed on watch!!!

        • Refguy

          Doesn’t happen, or just not allowed?

          • George L

            Not allowed. Also, no wifi or cell service.

          • Refguy

            Easy enough to block on the enclosed portion of the bridge, but not on the wings or at the look out stations. Four bars on top of the helo hangar 5 miles from the big island. (No, I wasn’t on watch.)

          • George L

            You won’t get a signal overseas, sorry. You’d need that country’s SIM card to get a cell signal. Considering the number of countries you’d hit on a cruise, and the amount of liberty, it’s safe to say no one’s going to invest in those.

          • Refguy

            SIMS are cheap; you can buy one for all of Europe (and parts of Oceania) for less than 25 bucks and there are phones that let you install 2 SIMS and switch between them. It’s been a long time since I was in China, but I was able to use my Verizon phone in Beijing. It’s not hard and it’s not expensive. I will bet that anyone assigned to a ship homeported in Japan (Fitz) has a SIM that will work on the Japanese system (and probably other systems in the region) and an account with a local wireless carrier. I assume you have heard of international roaming.

          • George L

            Yeah, I travel a lot. Cards are about $20-25 each. I have no doubt sailors stationed in Japan have Japanese SIMs. I’m just saying they probably don’t buy SIMs everywhere they go. That said, it seems this incident may be mechanical in nature.

          • Refguy

            If the rumor about a steering casualty ( I only saw it once with no confirmation or follow up) is confirmed, it would lift the cloud of crew error from the discussion.

          • Greg

            The Navy’s report on the Fitzgerald post-collision events noted that the initial report of the collision to the staff in Yokosuka was made via a personal cell phone due to damage to the ship’s communication gear.

  • JohnByron

    There’s a question that has to be asked … and as a qualified surface warfare officer I’ll ask it: How professional is today’s surface navy?

    • Phantombite

      Don’t know about the professional part of it but there is absolutely a training and perhaps a discipline problem. Failure to see the other ship or inept navigation?

      • ShermansWar

        Choice C), all of the above?

    • Frank Halide

      So my first underway in the Navy on a DDG and I was standing Conn for the first time. I asked the OOD “is the depth on this chart(electronic chart) in ft or fathoms?” OOD: it’s in ft. ME: “Really? because our PIM track has us going over an area where it is 33ft depth?!?” OOD: “well… it must be fathoms then” ME: “Don’t you think we should know?” OOD: “NAV laid the track i am sure its fine.” ME: “Lets talk to the QMs” QM: “Its in ft” ME: “I think we should have NAV take a look at this.” NAV comes to the bridge, his face turns white as snow and he moved the PIM track. That’s not even the worst story I could tell you BY FAR. So, to answer your question, not very.

      • RobM1981

        I so desperately wish that you were making that up, but I so desperately know that you are not.

      • Voice_of_Reason

        why doesn’t the chart have the unit of measure ON THE CHART?

        what dumbass would make a chart like that??

        • incredulous1

          Obviously there is a legend but it’s not immediately obvious. Blue water is always fathoms, unless it says SOUNDINGS IN FEET in huge purple letters like bays and inlets.

          • Voice_of_Reason

            That’s not how Frank described it.

          • incredulous1

            Go look at some chart if you don’t believe me. I never expect anyone to take my word alone for anything on here. I believe the Navy uses NOAA charts – see for yourself

        • larryc

          It depends on the chart type and age. Sounding are generally in feet close to land and fathoms in blue water. The newest charts are in meters.
          This OOD was a clown for sure.

        • cj47

          On a single chart all soundings have to be in either feet or fathoms or meters if you must… never mixed. On an electronic display of a chart the sounding units must be clearly indicated in a bold manner.

      • Shine

        that is worse than sad… holy cr*p 🙁

      • incredulous1

        You have to be shitting me with this story!!! This is NOT funny. Can you share with us how long ago this was? Also curious to see what you think their priorities are if not competent navigation. I went through ROTC in prep for SWO school back in the early 90’s and wrote a paper on the Kincaid Incident, also in the Strait of Malacca, and thought it could never happen again with AIS / ECDIS etc now available. And now this….

      • Ken Adams

        I once attended a navigation brief on my ship for entry (as Sea and Anchor OOD) into a port on the east coast of Sicily. The brief was led by our QMCS. He had laid the track (a) over shoal water, and (b) into the wrong harbor. Having entered that same port on the same ship in the previous deployment, I was able to immediately spot and point out the 2nd problem. The skipper was a bit more focused on the first. In the end, the process worked and the errors were corrected.
        This was in 1989. There really aren’t new problems and mistakes to be made, but there may be less effective application of checks and balances to prevent those mistakes.

      • ou1954

        Wow!

        Ft. or Fathoms?

        Never an issue in the olden days. What is happening to our navy?

        • ShermansWar

          The introduction of a plethora of gizmos and gadgets. Makes things easier for the overburdened sailors, dontcha’ know..

    • Claude Lumpkin

      A fair question. For all of the SWOs out there, do any of you recall attending an Emergency Shiphandling course? I went to one at Fleet ASW Training Center SDiego about 50 years ago. The ship simulator had features that could be adopted to a collision avoidance system. Is anything like such a system available on naval vessels?

  • torbai

    Alright……. another previously unscheduled baseline 9 upgrade……. another $270 million…..

    Hope no one would die this time….

    • Marjus Plaku

      Maybe only plus side to this whole thing.

  • Sure It Is

    Why is the question not being asked- who is ramming our Naval ships?? Makes me think of the cars and trucks being used by Muslim extremists only on a much bigger scale. How much money and down time from readiness???

    • Aaron

      At least in the other earlier case, there are not that many Japanese Muslim extremists and the evidence so far strongly point to it primarily being the US destroyer’s fault.

    • Marjus Plaku

      The warship is always responsible for it’s own position and safety as well as awareness. They should be doing circles around cargo ships, not getting dinged up like some stranded fishingboat.

    • waveshaper1

      I’ve been asking the same question for years about why cars are constantly getting rammed into/run over by dang trains. It must be the trains fault. These enormous/slow moving/non-turning/cant stop worth a dang commercial cargo ships are just like trains on the oceans of the world.

    • FromTheMirror

      Good point – such total failure in basic seamanship – twice in a row at that – simply does not exist. It’s either internal sabotage or some external action at play here.

    • Jim Crotty

      So it seems you are heavily invested in the aluminum foil industry.

  • CharleyA

    Perhaps some echelon above the ship drivers need to start taking responsibility. It’s become conspicuously routine – and too easy – for leadership to fault pilots and captains, and not the systems and the training that they are responsible for purchasing and providing.

    • George L

      Skippers must have faith their subordinates are trained properly before they report aboard and it seem so they aren’t.

      • LKW-AVP41

        Hopefully some good will come of all this, when we see the final report. Guess I need to visit a ship and try to get a sense of a modern 21st century U.S. Naval combatant. These things are not new. My first ship was an Essex class carrier and for 18 months nothing happened. Within the next 18 or so months, (after I moved on) they had two collisions with merchant ships at least one of those in Chesapeake Bay.

      • TPF1

        No — it is THEIR responsibility to make sure his/her watch standers are competent and NEVER assume anything!

        • George L

          When you have hundreds to thousands of crew members aboard the ship, you simply cannot test everyone. You have to trust that these people earned their pins, rates and promotions. You have to run drills and keep up their training. You have to make sure they work well together, but you cannot check everyone or train everyone.

    • TPF1

      Disagree. This indicates to my retired Surface Warfare Officer brain that there are MAJOR problems in training, qualifications, and watch standing practices. ALL of that firmly rests on the CO’s shoulders.
      Even if the CO inherits a bunch of marginally “qualified” officers to operate the ship and stand the watches, it is THE CO’S responsibility to make it right and go forward from there. You don’t get to claim it is someone else’s problem. That’s why YOU are the CO! I would understand if the CO had only been in the billet for a week or two, but I don’t think this is the case.
      CO’s I worked under did not assume that those qualified were actually properly trained and qualified. They made each officer stand a few watches under their (the CO’s) observation to requalify them and issued their own qualification letters once they were satisfied that they were competent.

      • Jim Crotty

        And with these DDG’s the Navy has incorporated the Fleet Up System, so a “new” CO has actually been on the ship for the previous 18 months serving as XO. He certainly knows his ship and personnel when assuming command.

        • George L

          Should know the ship. The crew constantly rotates.

          • Jim Crotty

            Sure crews are always in flux but it’s not like every month you have a whole new crew. The incoming CO having spent the past 18 months on the ship as the XO most certainly knows not only the ship but the crew as well. Actually there is probably not another officer who knows the crew better than the XO.

      • George L

        Ever been a CO? I’ll bet not. While the Co is responsible for all and everything, a CO cannot retrain the ship. That’s a bigger problem.

        • TPF1

          No George, I was not a CO. However, every single time I reported to a ship, the CO’s observed me and the other officers to make sure they could trust us with their ship. No exceptions. As the Senior Watch Officer on three ships, I oversaw all the watch-standing officers to determine if they were competent as well. The CO’s would always ask me and the XO what we thought of the new watchstander, but then he would offer his observations. In a few cases, the CO would say, “I don’t have a good feeling about this one — let’s keep him under instruction for a few more watches.

  • Phantombite

    Seriously! After the Fitz you would think the squids would be more attentive. Lil Kim is probably wetting himself with glee and our ASEAN allies are probably shaking their heads in disbelief.

    • krankyvet

      100% bro…I’m really getting tired of being blasted with another stunning event in the operation of our nation every day! Yippee ki yay, and now a total eclipse. Hope for Tuesday…

    • fat eddie

      Asian

      • Phantombite

        ASEAN – look it up

        • fat eddie

          I looked it up, ASEAN, ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS, Where as my reference is to Asia as a whole , not a Association

    • incredulous1

      Actually, I can just see the smug face [when is he not smug] on Xi Jinping right now. Two ramming incidents in two months following FonOps. hmmmmm

  • Janeplain

    The guy that needs to be called? Asst Sec of Defense for Asis and Asst Sec of State for East Asia. To Date–Trump hasn’t appointed either person. The phone is ringing Mr. President. Jared Kushner cant fix every problem. He should be an intern!. You needs experts. This is the second accident at sea. Waiting to start a war?

    • George L

      They were driving the ship?

  • waveshaper1

    Maybe some formal maritime agency or the coast guard needs to start issuing “Notice to Mariners” warning everyone whenever a US Navy ship is traversing “any” sea/shipping lane.

    • krankyvet

      Just ask the Chinese, they know where we are…

    • George L

      More likely our crews need to be aware of others around them.

    • Jim Crotty

      They have AIS which does exactly that. The problem of course is that the Navy never or almost never transmits on AIS for OPSEC concerns.

  • phantomm

    While many are quick to blame personnel, I would suggest looking at the software for the radars. My understanding of this type of destroyer is that it should know what’s going on around it in a radius of 100 miles. So, to have a ship come up from the left rear without being detected suggests a blind spot on the radar. But the crew should have seen it visually, long before the radar would pick it up. So, yes, someone on watch wasn’t watching, but it seems that radar signatures and echoes aren’t being translated correctly as well.

    • El Kabong

      Start looking at those who were supposed to be standing watch.

      You know, actually LOOKING…

    • George L

      Who said it wasn’t detected? There are tons of ships passing those strait ships 24/7.

    • Refguy

      Don’t confuse the ranges of the Aegis system with those of the surface-search radar; different targets and different horizons.

  • Yamanote

    Time for flag heads to roll. Start with DESRON 15, and 7th Fleet. There is a systematic and cultural problem somewhere that has not been addressed.

  • Centaurus

    When does anyone think our navigation skills will improve ? It seems like we’re bumping into a lotta ships these days. Bad for careers, eh ? So what’s next ? Jamming into a Chinese “Aircraft Carrier” ?

    • George L

      This isn’t navigation. This is seamanship.

      • Centaurus

        Ok, our SEAMANSHIP is in need of improvement. Either way, we shouldn’t be slamming into ship 3 x bigger than USS Fitzgerald…USS John S. McCain. We are asleep @ the wheelhouse.

      • Jim Crotty

        Exactly! So many use words and phrases that are misleading either by forgetting overtime and not having the experience in the first place.

  • Richard Pierce

    Be of good cheer – we have the best commander-in-thief that money can buy. He will certainly get to the bottom of these incidents. Why not blame the collisions on Fake News ?

    • Jim Crotty

      Give it a rest, you Dork!

    • cj47

      Well it is a year later and the Trumpenfurher has gotten to the bottom of nothing, has en-riched himself and properties with tax-payer dollars and is on record as lying over 5,000 times since taking office, and that number is from months ago. The worst enemy of the US Navy’s is the under-funding perpetrated by the Republican Party in congress.

  • obi

    when technology/electronics is the Master, you reach disaster faster.

  • cerealkiller

    I’m a military, and in particular US navy, enthusiast from France and I would like to join your prayers
    for the missing sailors of USS McCain.

    However, I’m also very much concerned about all those reoccurring events (collisions, ships going
    aground and so on). How can a ship, completely stuffed with sensors and electronics such as an Aegis Destroyer, collide with a huge, probably 3-4 times larger, ship?

    It really looks like there would be no one at the helm or no officer around at the moment of the incident. Is there a fundamental issue? Or are those two events just unluckiness? The investigations will probably clarify all that but in the meantime, it’s actually quite scary… Especially here, when the DD is heading in one of the most crowded area in the world… And I’m not even mentioning that some leaders in Asia will for sure report those events to discredit US navy capabilities…

    • FromTheMirror

      My opinion is that there is no rational explanation for such a total collapse of BASIC seamanship – must be either internal sabotage or some external action that’s been hushed up.

  • Blain Shinno

    Put the 355 ship Navy thing on hold. Give the money to the USAF. I think they were able to get the misplacing nuclear weapons thing out of the system.

  • Question – dose the high winder Navy post lookouts, Port and Starboard, and a aft man overboard lookout, OOD, JOOD, Bosn’mate of the Watch, Quartermaster of the watch, helm and or lee helm – I just wonder. How can you miss a 30,000 ton 600 ft. vessel close aboard. Just a question. God Bless our Navy and all the sailors that sail over and under, and above the seas. MMCS(SW)(SS) USN Ret. Oh Lord thy sea so great my ship so small (Brenton sailors prayer)

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Time to invest in some form of radar so the USN can see these massive slow moving freighters they keep bumping into.

    Curious oversight.

  • George Hollingsworth

    Seems like after the earlier incident there would be at least one junior officer and one chief awake on the bridge who takes things seriously?

  • publius_maximus_III

    Would 5:24 am local time have been daylight? If not, one more similarity to the USS Fitzgerald collision, that and of course, operating near a busy Asian port.

    • NEC338x

      Sunrise this morning in Singapore is 0703 local. This occurred about 30 nm east, so push that up about 5 min. There a damn small period of predawn light this close to the equator. New moon (eclipse day ya’ know) so it was dark. Maybe a little lightening in the east due to the onset of astromical twilight.

      • publius_maximus_III

        Thanks, NEC. Perhaps close enough for some loom from Singapore? But that only in one direction, and certainly not enough to read by. Sounds like our lookouts need to borrow some of those night vision goggles from the ground pounders.

        • George L

          Unless the freighter’s nav lights were off. Often the simplest thing can lead Ron the biggest disaster. NavyVet ships don’t broadcast their location and are rather small while cargo ships can go in the dark and can never hard to spot against a dark background.

  • LowObservable

    The Fitzgerald and now the JMC, in as many months.

  • FromTheMirror

    No way they’re not doing this on purpose – no ship’s crew can be that dumb or that negligent. Nearly two dozen men have to do absolutely and purposefully nothing to bring such a total snafu about. What’s really going on here?

  • Ingvald Tangen

    I don’t think we should blame anyone before all facts are on the table. The traffic in Malacca and Singapore straits are heavy, with often short distance between vessels. So however skilled crew, advanced equipment, accidents will still happened. The reason may be miscalculations, technical problems or other reasons out of the crews control. I had been transiting those areas from the first time as a young second officer in 1971 until a few years ago. And I’m not surprised that accidents still happened.

    • Jim Crotty

      There is NEVER an excuse for a collision at sea. And they were not in the Strait of Malacca but some 2-3 hours East of the Straits.

  • MA

    I’m not a veteran, have a question. With all the electronic wizardry do Navy ships have human lookouts 24/7 scanning 360?

    • Duane

      Yes.

    • George L

      Absolutely supposed to. Do they all do their jobs? Clearly not.

  • Duane

    Save the diagnoses and condemnations of the entire US Navy until we know something. We know nothing yet.

    This is a disturbing accident, however. Not acceptable performance.

  • George Hollingsworth

    Wanna have a third one? Staff the ship with people promoted to Admiral under Obama.

    • George L

      Whomever the Admiral, the skipper should have learned basic ship driving skills through the years. Commanders aren’t straight out of ROTC.

  • RobM1981

    Paging Secretary of Defense Mattis. Secretary Mattis, please clean up in aisle “Navy…”

  • Ed L

    All within the operational area that the People Empire of China wants. A second Burke DDG out of operation. Are not the Burkes all to be made BMD capable. Another collision? but not an accident!

  • TrustbutVerify

    Listen, how many years have Navy our ships and our Captains navigated these waters with no problems? All of a sudden we have two collisions in disputed waters with Asian flagged vessels. This is beginning to look like a ploy to damage our ships and keep them out of the area – at least enough for PR purposes.

    • DaSaint

      I’d agree with you, if there were some way to jam all navigation systems, but you can’t jam the Mk1 Eyeball. There should have been eyeballs on bridge wings and aft, regardless of what the ‘systems’ said.

      • TrustbutVerify

        Yep, they do take true bearings from the wings, but that is complicated at night if there are not navigational aids to take bearings on. They may not check the position of ships at a distance that are shown on plots to be further away than they appear to the eyeball…then when they are closer, it takes time to communicate and check positions (which would be confused if the GPS plot and inertial navigation were off – they wouldn’t necessarily believe it with no notice issued from Command of the potential hazard.) I would say going forward you will see different instructions to the watches.

        • George L

          He’s talking about lookouts, not bearings. No one says their navigation was off/wrong.

    • George L

      This vessel is flagged in Liberia. Collisions happen more often than you think and there’s no ploy.

      • TrustbutVerify

        They don’t happen to Navy ships that often, with commercial vessels especially. Most of the ones you are talking about relate to subs and fishing vessels, not capital ships on the surface. And, yes, it is possible their nav systems are being hacked.

        • George L

          They do happen. Not all the time, but they do happen. Small incidents don’t get news time and foreign navies try to hide their mistakes too. Navs systems are redundant, backed you by navs charts and then by GPS AND dead reckoning. The ship’s combat system should are as well. They’re not internet servers. They actually can’t be hacked physically. They use burst satellite transmissions. And insulated (physically systems). Furthermore, even if they could and were hacked, ships aren’t driven by radars and the lookouts aren’t staring at screens.

  • Voice_of_Reason

    What is going on in the Navy right now???

    This is the 2nd collision of a destroyer in about a week.

    And please God, don’t let the senior leaders have a stupid, useless, thoughtless, bureaucratis, cover-the-brass’s-butt “safety stand down day” where everyone has to sit through canned standard safety BS powerpoint briefings.

    Instead, get some big brains involved to actually get to the root cause.

    • kaigun2

      Not order a safety stand down? You might as well ask them not to breathe, it’s as reflexive.

      • Voice_of_Reason

        A safety stand-down is merely theater pretending to be a solution.

    • Ed L

      how about the People’s Empire of China? as a suspect.

  • Eagle115

    I find it hard to believe that with all of the watchstanders and navigational assets available on our destroyers that on two separate occasions in the last few months there were collisions with merchant vessels. It’s time for someone up the chain of command to be relieved for approving the CO’s of these ships. You could understand one lookout not sighting a vessel in changing light situations, but what about CIC? There is something very wrong here.

    • Jim Crotty

      Many of these CO’s on the new DDG’s are hand-selected diversity sensitivity considerations and they are selected “early” and sent to the ship as the XO to learn their craft. When the new XO arrives do you believe during the turnover he is going to make a list of discrepancies he has found when that XO he is relieving will be his new CO in a couple weeks? Not happening.

  • Voice_of_Reason

    huh. but at least the crew was 100% certified on their annual transgender training…

    • Jim Crotty

      Or they might have been conducting a transgender seminar during the 04-08 watch!

  • RDF

    I understand the point. We have had two what look like midships collisions in the past two months. One starboard, one port. Both night busy sea lanes. Hard to understand really.

  • Mark982

    Regardless of your armament, you don’t play chicken with a ship a hundred feet longer but takes 10x the room for maneuvering. Maybe it’s in the name. Like the Senator who has made plenty, this ship made a bad decision.

    • George L

      The ship isn’t named after Senator McCain, but rather for his father and grandfather, who were both Navy Admirals.

  • Voice_of_Reason

    interesting points.

    all branches of the military seem to add unnecessary – in fact, detrimental – complexities to EVERYTHING.

    Every unit I was in in the Army was constantly busy with administrivia. Going to the field was like a distraction from the BS taskings.

    The USAF is having problems retaining pilots due to “additional duties”. The Army is notorious for administrivia. I suspect the Navy is in the “same boat”, so to speak.

  • sferrin

    The USN may not know how to sail but by God they know all 79 gender designators. Thanks Obama!

    • John Locke

      LOL!!
      Typical

  • Bob Carroll

    Hey Navy! This is rediculous, pathetic. What you have done fit’s in with what you did in Pearl Harbor, and what the Navy did to the Marine’s on Guadalcanal. Navy what you are doing is wrong. 2 destroyers heavily damaged for no reason. If the commander of this tanker, or the container ship were Moro tribesman, or muslim’s from indonesia there is no excuse for this. This is an example of total failure of your training program’s.The Navy may want to go after video game champions rather than football player’s for the Academy. Hold the CNO along with the Admiralty Board responsible. Everybody above seaman are responsible for what is happening.

  • George Hollingsworth

    Whole Marine Corps squadrons basically grounded for lack of parts (and qualified maintenance personnel?), a jet trainer fleet and most of the F/A 18 fleet with an oxygen problem no one can seem to bring up to WW II standards, and multiple collisions at sea. If these don’t require a new CNO, what does?

    • George L

      WW2 standards? What standard is that? 250kn speeds, unpressurized and no missiles/radar/GPS?

      • George Hollingsworth

        The oxygen system of the T-45 and most of the newer F/A-18s is not up to WW II standards. And the B-29 of WW II was pressurized.

  • Bob Carroll

    Why are our Navy ship’s being commanded by incompetents?

    • George L

      I wouldn’t go that far.

      • Bob Carroll

        I hate to say it but Somebody need’s to go a lot further. How else do 2 state of the art Navy Destroyer’s get hit by 2 freighter’s? The Captain’s should have been on deck before those ship’s got anywhere near those Destroyer’s. Especially the McCain since they had already flushed the other commander, and the previous investigation. And the families of 17 dead deserve a better answer.

  • Steve Yeater

    Something is really wrong here, 4 accidents in the 7th fleet in the last year. I had a general explain to me one time that if a wing had too many accidents they would fire the wing commander even if it wasn’t their fault. He said they don’t know why but it always worked, they thought it just sent a shock wave through the systems. It is time to fire the 7th fleet commander.

    • George L

      That’s because it IS their fault. Accidents are preventable.

  • RTColorado

    It’s time to tie up at dockside and review the basics. We all giggle and guffaw when some poor slob rubs up against a buoy or scraps a sandbar, but now they’re killing sailors and taking capital ships out of action. Time for heads to roll…it’s the only thing a command structure understands. Time for ship’s captains to go to prison for negligence when crew members are injured. It’s time squadron commanders be held accountable for aircraft losses and it’s time to tell the military we won’t replace what they lose to negligence…they’ll just have to make due with what they have. But the ultimate “Buck stops here” is the primary senior commander in the command in which these accidents take place. they should be relieved and replaced. The Navy wants a 355 ship navy…well at this rate, it ain’t happening. There were 62 Arleigh Burke class Destroyers …now there’s 60. As a taxpayer and a veteran I’m no longer willing to shovel tons of money into a Navy that wrecks its ships, crashes its aircraft, hires hookers…and worst of all loses sailors for no good reason except due to incompetence.

    • George L

      Both ships will repaired and returned to the fleet. The entire class should have been replaced years ago, but no money to do it. Lots was wasted on the LCS program.

      • RTColorado

        Yeah, those ships will be repaired and returned to the fleet…a couple of hundred million dollars and six months later…but those seventeen sailors are gone forever. Remember the old axiom…it’s not the glove, it’s the player.

        • George L

          All true, but your original post only talked about those ships not being in the count.

  • Voice_of_Reason

    How come civilian ships aren’t running into each other in the same areas?

    Why is the Navy’s training and operation system not producing results? Are they keeping the sailors too busy with govt/DoD administrivia?

    You can always count on the military to prioritize BS and pandering to the flag-officer GFI-fairy over actual business.

    • USNVO

      They do run into each other, just look at any trade news. They also run
      aground, come in to port with gelcoat or paint on the bow, have explosions, dump fuel, and get pirated as well. Just not as news worthy.

      • Voice_of_Reason

        Interesting. I don’t hear about commercial sailors going missing very often.

        • John Locke

          that merchant might have 30 Sailors on it primarily in the superstructure/engine room (cause most of the ship is used for storage) while the DDG has about 300 spread out all over ……. a lot more possibility of losing Sailors as a result of a collision.

        • DaSaint

          But you do hear about cruise ships losing crew or passengers overboard every few months.

        • George L

          Commercial vessels usually get flagged and staffed in other countries and so you wouldn’t hear it on our news. Just look it up yourself.

    • incredulous1

      Because we don’t broadcast AIS position [no one’s navy does], which makes it even more important for our surface combatants to use their electronic charts and watches to see and avoid in heavy transit areas.

    • John Locke

      During these types of congested transits/entering port an augmented navigation detail is set. They are hardly performing any “govt/DoD administivia”.

  • incredulous1

    Monrovia, Liberia flag of convenience, but Mexican owned. McCain just performed a FoNoP. CHINA has been doing a lot of business in Mexico of late in their effort to thwart Japanese investment there. Though I’m sure they would not report AIS, I want to know if any Chinese ships were in the area at the time. Mexicans love to be paid, and China loves to purchase influence and capability. I want a complete investigation and a VERY transparent report, not 6-12 months later during part of a “Friday dump” either. I do not feel like tin foil hat here since there are reasons for the background on this. Neither is it the case that we don’t want to hear an answer to this one. Just remember that they have been thwarted on a number of fronts lately, are still pursuing their dream in which they said the Pacific was no longer big enough for the both of us. I would love to be wrong, since I don’t think we are ready for such an engagement yet, but also feel that it has become inevitable.

    • DaSaint

      Still no excuse for the crew of the DDG not to SEE the cargo ship and DISTANCE themselves from it.

      • George L

        The collision is real, but your intelligence is certainly fake news.

    • George L

      Oh yes, sir! The Chinese must have paid a mexican company to attack a US war ship by ramming it, and outmaneuvering it, while it tries to dodge them and shoots missiles at them. Yes, the world will drop what it’s doing to investigate that! Paranoia aweigh!

  • ignatzthecat

    Regarding where the McCain’s hull was hit somebody’s judgement and timing was way off….If in real time scrambling to maneuver during hostilities in close quarters this kind of awareness by the McCain crew (or any other warship) would be inexcusable and fatal as this collision shows. There is no comparison between the maneuverability of an Aegis destroyer and the hulking oil tanker class. “Somebody” was truly asleep at the wheel of the USS John McCain.

    • Jim Crotty

      More than one somebody!

  • John Kennedy

    Perhaps there is a fault /blind spot? in this class destroyers radar antenna and/or computer systems?

    I note that both ship’s collisions occurred in highly congested channels and near shores (a lot of “clutter”) and wonder if the following may have relevance:

    The radar on both Arleigh Burke class destroyers U.S.S. McCain and Fitzgerald are An/SPY-1D passive phased array design unit. This radar was first installed on the Arleigh Burke class in 1991, with all antenna in a single deckhouse. It is a variant of the -1B to fit the Arleigh Burke class using UYK-43 computer, with the main antenna also used as missile uplinks, thus eliminate the need of separate missile uplink in earlier models, and the UYA-4 display in earlier models is replaced by UKQ-21 display.

    A later An/SPY-1D(V) radar, the Littoral Warfare Radar, was an upgrade introduced in 1998 with new track initiation processor

    ☆☆☆☆for high clutter near-coast operations, where the earlier “blue water” systems were especially weak. ☆☆☆☆

    The wave form is coded and signal processing is improved.

    • John Locke

      There’s no blind spot if you are on the bridgewings

      • John Kennedy

        sure…but “if” is the key part of what you wrote….and I think “not” is the answer.

    • Refguy

      SPY is an air search/track/missile-guidance radar; the upgrade was to improve performance against low altitude aircraft and missiles against a land background. Probably has an MTI to separate high speed targets from stationary and slow targets. Any ship would be slow enough to be filtered out. Surface search is an X-band radar with a rotating antenna.

      • John Kennedy

        Thanks for that info. I’m not a radar expert, obviously. I still wonder if something designwise may be at play here, maybe even involving a certain scan sector..close and off the quarters. I trouble shoot buildings…I always start investigations looking at the commonalities. Of course, navy training is also one of those too, and good situational awareness seems to come to play in all of these events too…but for numerous radar operators? To me, that would surely take this problem well beyond (just) those individual sailors and officers.

        I begin by casting aside any belief that coincidences may just be occurring, although, of course, that does happen, on occasion. I almost always find there ARE common causes…but fixable causes…not just “luck”.

        I hope, as would be normal organizationally, individual sailors are not simply blamed and equipment and training is ignored….which, if course, assigns blame up the chain…which leadership typically abhors to admit. If this is the approach…more sailors and perhaps others will be harmed, and perhaps, incapable systems won’t be fixed.

        • Refguy

          Your welcome. Surface search radar on destroyers isn’t that much different from what cruise liners and high-end yachts have; maybe an IFF interrogator added. In the ’80’s (to my knowledge) and probably before and after that, it wasn’t unusual to have a commercial radar unit aboard Navy ships as a spare (easy to get repair parts in any port without the hassle of the navy supply chain) and to spoof Russian ELINT by “sounding” like a commercial ship.

          • John Kennedy

            Thanks again. Spoofing Russians that easy back then? Now we can’t even find a 30,000 GT tanker (or keep the Russkies out of our elections systems, and God knows what else)? Thanks also on the ship radar positions, which I think you are correct about. I think there are 2 surface units. However, still wonder if electronics of the 2 systems could interfere in some way. I know they are quite differently generated, but believe both still end up as electronic waves going out and returning. Just trying to find a possible cause that doesn’t come down to stupidity…in training, or command…or the possibility of Russkies involvement either.

          • Refguy

            Spoofing might be too strong a word, but it did make it harder to separate the warship from the rest of the surface traffic if they all looked the same to ELINT.
            As far as interference between SPY and surface search, Aegis has been around for decades; Aegis ships would have started crashing into commercial vessels a long time ago and it would be happening in all of the numbered fleets.

      • John Kennedy

        I start investigations by collecting all data and then start with the most obvious, for instance: the scanning radar domes in this class destroyer seem in line to port and starboard quarters…where it seems the 2 commercial vessels were approaching in these 2 incidents… right over the passive phased array antennas. Could there be an interference between these 2 systems at certain frequencies or angles?

        • Refguy

          No. SPY (S-Band) is for air targets only. Rotating antenna for X-band surface search radar is on a mast (lower yard of the foremast if memory serves correctly) well above the SPY arrays.

  • John Kennedy

    I also note that both destroyers seem to have been hit by ships approaching them from the rear at a somewhat shallow angle.

  • JohnByron

    Part of the post-crash discussion has to be a review of the noxious surface navy practice of fleeting up XOs to be COs in the same ship. It works for air squadrons, but in a warship it invites a complacency, a general happiness with the status quo, and it denies the ship benefit of fresh perspective.

    Rickover would twirl in his grave if anyone tried this in submarines.

    Old navy saying: a new broom sweeps clean.

    Wonderful expression from a now-deceased Air Force two-star: cold eyes.

    My comment from a lot of time topside in submarines and as first lieutenant in a cruiser: if everything you’re seeing where you’re standing is ok … you’re standing in the wrong spot.

    • DaSaint

      “My comment from a lot of time topside in submarines and as first lieutenant in a cruiser: if everything you’re seeing where you’re standing is ok … you’re standing in the wrong spot.”

      Great principle!

    • Jim Crotty

      You are absolutely correct. Take the existing XO who is going to Fleet Up to CO. He has developed a relationship, likely a good one, with the CO over the previous 18 months, so he is unlikely to make a list of discrepancies he discovered during the turnover process because he is friends with the CO and if he created such a list he would be putting himself on report since he has been serving as XO for the past 18 months. Now take the new incoming XO who would normally go through a turnover process and list discrepancies or questionable policies to cover his butt, but now the XO he is relieving is not leaving the ship but in a couple weeks will be his new CO. So you really think he is going to create such a list in that situation. Therefore issues and problems never get addressed and corrected, at least officially. Not a fan of Fleeting Up.

  • incredulous1

    China Daily newspaper claims US Navy is ‘hazard’ in Asian waters. Why do you think they were so quick to chime in? Remember everything Chinese is controlled by the state / CCP.

    • publius_maximus_III

      Meaconing.

  • John Kennedy

    Also…I don’t believe in random coincidence.

    • George L

      Ever take a statistics course?

  • publius_maximus_III

    One thing that might help would be lighting a fire under these slow moving investigations. Who’s to say something from Fitzgerald might have prevented McCain? Or from McCain preventing the next?

    Counting McCain, Fitzgerald, and the KC-130T in MS, the Navy now has three very public accidents with multiple fatalities and not even a preliminary finding as to cause. If I were one of those families, I’d be camped right outside my Congressman’s door.

    • John Locke

      why do you think they are slow moving?

      • publius_maximus_III

        I might ask you the opposite, but answering a question with a question is not very good form. I think a month or two is plenty of time to make some preliminary findings public: no positive drug tests, no explosive residue in the wreckage, no structural or equipment failures right before the crash, etc. What harm would letting a little bit of the cat out of the bag do? Complete radio silence for such public events is not a good idea, IMHO, if only for good PR and nothing else.

        • George L

          Hundreds of people to interview, including international crew and agencies. Thousands of pages of technical daya to comb through, hundreds of pages of communications data. Engineering assessments, personnel assessments, medical assessments, weather, operations, etc. You’re investigating deaths and millions in damage. You have to get it right the first time.

          • publius_maximus_III

            Mind numbing, I’m sure.

            But there must be some “right the first time” information that’s reliable enough for public consumption, before every jot and tittle of a developing investigation is known.

            I can understand wanting to have everyone’s first hand testimony about events privately, before possibly tainting them with other persons’ recollections. But some things don’t depend on the fallibility of a human memory. Electronic recordings of ships’ speeds and courses, information from flight data and voice recorders… such things are not likely to change with any further developments in the investigation.

    • George L

      The findings on the Fitz incident were released on Thursday and artificially speeding up investigations doesn’t create factual findings. Ever done an investigation?

      • publius_maximus_III

        No sir.

      • Jim Crotty

        The JAG Manual Investigation regarding Fitzgerald was NOT released on Thursday, has not yet been released and will likely be awhile before it is ever released. And when released it will be heavily redacted especially regarding the names of shipboard personnel. The report that was released Thursday was a Supplemental Line of Duty Investigation conducted by another Admiral so families of those injured and killed could receive the benefits they had coming. That being said, it did provide a lot of post-collision information as to what happened but again that was to verify and confirm injuries and deaths were in the line of duty. The JAG Report will cover everything and will be much more detailed.

    • Frank VanderPloeg

      Investigative findings from the Port Royal grounding back in 2009 were promptly leaked by the Honolulu Advertiser, yet as far as I know the official report(s), if any, have never been made publicly available. But no sailors were killed. Did someone figure that there was nothing to be learned from that incident?

  • DefTactics

    As I have said in the past on this site,we are seeing what 8 years of bad Defense budgets and low moral due to the services.The demands of required force projection and non ending conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan has hurt the force. The Operational Commanders have had to strip out funding from the maintence,parts and training accounts. The effect is showing itself through the whole US Military.Also with seasoned and exspierenced war fighters leaving because of these cuts,loss of flying hours and outrageous changes in social protocol in the services is a cancer that must be eliminated.When you see plain as day accidents continuing to happen and those services announcing operational pauses they know exactly where the problems are.Over 35 years in safety has taught me that this problem is systemic and must be rectified.Immediately instituting Red Teams to pinpoint the funding issues and heavy retraining and operational testing to make sure they know what,when and how to do theirs jobs in any given situation.Zero accidents and zero injuries are always the goals.Also the repair and maintence facilities need immiedate help to fix the bottle necks.I think the services might benifit by recalling any experienced people from the active reserves.Those who argue that this is not a Democrat party created problem are being intellectually dishonest.Never have we seen such serious accidents and bone headed mistakes.Trying to do more or the same with insufficient funds led to this.Congress now with a Republican President must pass the NDAA that gives our war fighters the best training,tools,equipment.The amount of accidents are not normal as some on this board has said in the past.To try to compare our current state of readiness and the amount of accidents and injuries and loss of life to the operational tempo of WW2 is a meaningless comparison.This is very serious and we need to fix it now !!! Please pray for the 10 missing sailors and their families.

    • publius_maximus_III

      Seems like those “Loss of confidence in ability to command” announcements were coming out almost weekly. Don’t recall seeing any A-tall since the changing of the CinC. Political correctness coming home to roost?

  • Mike

    I’ve spent a little time around Merchant Marine Officers and their common thought was to stay well away from gray Navy ships. I used to think this was unfair, but today it seems to be good advice.

  • b2

    After 8 years of change for change sake and all the loosening of standards, the “bill” has come due it seems…Are the times and millennial influence only to blame?

    No, no to me. It has to be the leadership when occurrences like these numerous ship and aircraft mishaps . Weak leadership pervades. Take the CNO/VCNO at the top. They are probably nice guys and competent officers but they aren’t standard naval leaders from core navy warrior backgrounds…. One is an SSBN guy that worked for STRATCOM ..and the other is a P-3 pilot who never had a ships tour his entire career. These leadership experiments over the past 8 years stretch from top to bottom…. Too many experiments, too many changes.

    We have to go back to basics with strong leadership, however I’m not sure we’re capable of it today…

    • OldHickory21

      Can I have an amen?

  • William Prendergast

    I suspect it will eventually be reported that the McCain, per standard procedure, was NOT broadcasting it’s position on AIS. I’m sure that’s a tough question for the Navy: do we use AIS, which the entire world’s merchant fleet depends on for collision avoidance, thereby revealing our warship’s position to anyone with internet access, OR do we leave the AIS (reporting, I imagine they have receive on but obviously don’t look at it much!) turned off so that the merchant ships with no lookouts and minimal bridge watch won’t know we’re here???? Choosing to do that, which the Navy probably did in this as in the Fitzgerald situation, means lookouts and watch standers have to be ULTRA-ALERT in high traffic situations like the Straits of Malacca and the approaches to Yokosuka…….which they obviously were NOT! Either that or stand off from congested straits and entrances until daylight like they used to do in sailing ship days! Shouldn’t be necessary in these days of sophisticated electronics! But Hey guys! You’ve got to LOOK at the screens once in awhile!!

    • FelixA9

      Leave it off and fucking pay attention. With all the sensors onboard, that it couldn’t spot this ship heading it’s direction from miles away is criminal.

    • Jim Crotty

      So how did ships for decades manage to travel without AIS?

      • William Prendergast

        Well they paid closer attention to what they could see, and detect on radar, obviously. Please don’t think I’m advocating for the Navy to publicly reveal the position of it’s vessels. Far from it, as I thought I made clear. But it’s surely not enough to just say, “well, we got along fine without this gadget before, so why should we need it now?”

        The PROBLEM is that EVERYONE ELSE is heavily relying on AIS now. You’ve got 100,000+ ton vessels with no lookouts, compromised visibility and a bridge watch of a couple of people. They’re REQUIRED to report to AIS and they ASSUME that everyone else is doing it as well. They’ve got a display that combines the radar, AIS and chart pictures and THAT is what get’s all the attention.

        My point is, if you’re a vessel with a special mission (warship) that precludes the use of public position reporting (for obvious reasons), (and perhaps has a reduced radar return as well?) then in today’s environment you’re going to have to make up for your lack of visibility to other vessels, at least in the world’s high traffic zones (Straits of Malacca type places), with some kind of special effort and attention to the information sources you do have.

        We don’t have the facts yet so it’s impossible to say about the McCain whether this played a role or not. Perhaps the two vessels were aware of each other, even in communication. But it’s likely that the McCain was not reporting via AIS and that mutual awareness was less, and happened later, than if it had been employed.

        In this case, the gap was apparently not closed by other efforts. This comment is not intended as criticism, just identification of a problem created by other’s reliance on AIS. Ultimately, the COLREGS put the responsibility for avoiding collision on BOTH vessels.

        • Jim Crotty

          I understand what you are saying and respect your view. I have been retired too long to have ever been associated with AIS. But I have come to understand that many Navy ships do have the AIS capability but seldom transmit their position due to OPSEC concerns while many are able to receive AIS reports. I thought it was the case in the Fitzgerald collision and like here also, that the merchant was looking at their AIS only and as a result would never see a warship in their path. But all of that aside, the Navy warship has advanced electronics capable of detecting and tracking any and all surface contacts so there is no excuse for them not knowing about surrounding contacts. And then they are far more capable of maneuvering so there should never be a time when they would not maneuver their way out of a situation before it ever became an issue of a collision. I believe we are looking at 20+ years of putting diversity and sensitivity issues above all else and as a result this is what we have, the New Navy.

        • Refguy

          Given that McCain had just completed a show-the-flag sail-by of contested islands, what was the point of masking her position in a congested water way.
          Even with AIS, it’s unlikely that anyone planning a a missile attack could achieve target discrimination with all the other traffic.

  • cj47

    Ok, so it is pretty clear SOP for these destroyers is to not have CIC (combat information center) online while underway transiting open water. Of the 3 radar types onboard this class vessel, only one seems to have a repeater on the bridge, the surface search. Obviously no one is tracking CPA, TCPA, BCPA, etc. on any radar returns (targets). A vessel so equipped with radar is required to stand a proper radar watch. What ever the hell has happened to the US Navy since I was in… we ran at least a skeleton CIC watch while u/w even in the middle of nowhere and that was all manual on the DRT table. Blips assigned target designation and tracked to DIW or a CPA solution with full CPA report on anything that was going to come within miles of our ship. But then those were all lightly armed auxiliary surface ships attached to some of @COMSUBPAC ‘s squadrons so what the hell did we know about Ships Of The Line… or maybe that was because our wardroom was all Sub Qual’d and used to not being seen by other ships… like all of the other vessels on the water that are lit up like Christmas trees at nite. The basic tech of the Furuno surface search units here is outstanding, it can pick up birds and regularly displays the approaching wave fronts in even moderate chop. In both cases here the warship was approached by her stern with its one little low slung stern light barely visible.. duh!. Having brought many vessels up from Ensenada to the customs dock at San Diego, at night, the destroyer that sometimes sits near shore ( and I mean, really close in) just over the border is only visible by the break in the background lights that she makes as she sits DIW. She has her running lights on but I’ve seen brighter lights on boats under 100ft… they never have ANY deck lights. And their return is surprisingly small for as big as they are.

  • williamlanning

    The USS McCain was damage in its aft port side. It didn’t hit the tanker… it was rammed.

    • cj47

      Well, no, it was run into by a much larger vessel which could only see one puny little stern light mounted low on the transom. With her capability, about the only thing that should be able to “ram” that ship is a torpedo… what a joke.

      • williamlanning

        LMAO… a ship can be rammed intentionally or unintentionally… yes… what a joke you.

        • cj47

          I heard a ‘Flat Earther’ make the same comment.

          • williamlanning

            Haven’t been on here for a while. I saw your irrelevant comment… same ole BS.

    • Jim Crotty

      Yes it was struck by the merchant it looks like a T-bone. And yes it is likely the McCain was the stand-on vessel. But a collision is never ok nor should a ship maintain the stand-on position until hit. So the McCain was right, Dead Right.

  • Manuel Labor

    The straits are pretty hairy. Lanes don’t mean much to many. The crew on the tanker might’ve thought it was a good time for a hard starboard turn for no apparent reason.

  • OldHickory21

    As a former cru-des SWO myself, there should be some special requirements for watches in these crowded waters: extra people should be on watch—not a sea & anchor detail, but more than just normal watch. And maybe even the senior watch officer should have the OOD mid watch, with the XO relieving him on the rev. Watch turnovers should have at least 30 minutes to bring the new watch team up to speed before handing it over. It’s easy to get confused when there are scores of surface contacts inside 20nm, and once you lose the bubble, it can be almost impossible to get it back. Also, if operational commitments allow, Navy ships should transit these waters at near the same speed as the merchants, otherwise you don’t have time to realistically use bridge to bridge, and to observe agreed to course changes have effect.

    • OldHickory21

      Anyone who has ever had the Deck in one of the major straits of the world knows that going faster than the other traffic makes the transit like trying to fly a helicopter in your living room—its hairy to say the least.

  • Paul Stuart

    There is something else going on here IMO….With all the warning systems how does this even happen….

  • Khanh Vu

    Someone jammed onto our GPS system. Cyberattack.

    • Refguy

      It’s easy to introduce an error of one nautical mile in GPS, but it will affect all receivers within range. Ships might not know where they were (run aground or hit stationary objects) but they’d all be wrong by the same amount and it wouldn’t affect relnav or cause collisions

  • Donald Ross

    There is no excuse for this–the area in question is a busy one and someone obviously was “asleep at the switch”—and if the proximity alert system was turned off–why was there not watches on the focsle just for incidents like this…It’s obvious by the hole punched in the side of the McCain that they sailed right into the path of the Alnic MC–we are talking about a USN warship that is designed to defend itself–if it can’t defend itself from a slow,lumbering merchant vessel, god help them if any “fast boats” ever attack …

  • ou1954

    Please comment . . . What’s going on now?

    I’ve posted here about my times at sea in the 1950’s time frame. I never had any training other than NROTC and one summer cruise. OOD underway in 6-8 months, etc. Never saw the ship in a dangerous situation, at least from a maneuvering issue.

    Well, some time after being ASW officer, I went to a one week ASW school and that was it.

    I see now that officers who served after my time have gone through numerous special schools.

    My question is, “Why now with all the added training, are we seeing these accidents”? There must be something going on. We weren’t smarter in the olden days and we surely had less training.

    Well, one accident . . an LCVP or LCM, forgot which, bumped our stern in port and made a small tear in the already battered hull. I’m not even sure it was a full tear.

  • Centaurus

    Come the next revolution, let’s kill everybody ! : – (