Home » Foreign Forces » Video, Photos Show Collision Damage to USS John McCain as Ship Arrives in Singapore


Video, Photos Show Collision Damage to USS John McCain as Ship Arrives in Singapore

Damage to the port side is visible as the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) steers towards Changi Naval Base, Republic of Singapore on Aug. 21, 2017. US Navy Photo

This post was updated with a video from U.S. 7th Fleet.

The U.S. guided-missile that was struck by a chemical tanker near the Straits of Malacca has arrived in Singapore. 

Photos released by the Navy show the extent of the damage to USS John McCain (DDG-56) as the ship pulled into Changi Naval Base. An oval indentation more than 20 feet wide and seven to eight feet high from the water line can be seen in the port side of the destroyer, suggesting the dimensions of the hole in the ship could be as large as 20 feet by 16 feet. McCain (DDG-56) collided with the Liberian-flagged chemical tanker Alnic MC around 5:24 a.m. on Monday, local time.

Tugboats from Singapore assist the Guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) at it steers towards Changi Naval Base, Republic of Singapore following a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC on Aug 21, 2017. US Navy Photo

In contrast to the entrance of USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) into Yokosuka, Japan in June, McCain his riding higher in the water, suggesting McCain may have taken on less water.

Still, “significant damage to the hull resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms. Damage control efforts by the crew halted further flooding,” read a statement from the Navy.

Meanwhile, search and rescue efforts are underway for 10 sailors that are still missing following the early morning collision between McCain and the chemical tanker

“The Republic of Singapore Fearless-class patrol ships RSS Gallant (97), RSS Resilience (82), and Singaporean Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark (55) are in the area rendering assistance,” read a Monday morning statement from U.S. 7th Fleet.
“Additionally, MH-60S helicopters and MV-22 Ospreys from the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) are in the area providing search and rescue assistance.”

Guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) moored pier side at Changi Naval Base, Republic of Singapore following a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21. US Navy Photo

Big deck amphibious warship USS America (LHA-6) has also arrived in Changi Naval Base to support the crew of McCain.

“While in Singapore, America will provide messing and berthing services to McCain crew members and to support damage control efforts on board,” read a statement from U.S. 7th Fleet.
America will also support ongoing searches for 10 missing sailors. Ship Repair Facility divers are on scene as well to assess the damage to the hull.”

Earlier this month, McCain 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 an Aug. 21, 2017 release from U.S. 7th Fleet.

CHANGI NAVAL BASE, Singapore – The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) has arrived at Changi Naval Base following a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21.

The collision was reported at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time. Significant damage to the hull resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms. Damage control efforts by the crew halted further flooding.

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

Search and rescue efforts continue in coordination with local authorities. The Republic of Singapore Fearless-class patrol ships RSS Gallant (97), RSS Resilience (82), and Singaporean Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark (55) are in the area rendering assistance.

Additionally, MH-60S helicopters and MV-22 Ospreys from the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) are in the area providing search and rescue assistance.

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

The incident will be investigated.

 

  • Duane

    OPTEMPO has nothing to do with this. Ships sail. That’s what they do,and are expected to do.

  • NavySubNuke

    Yikes that is a big hole and again during a time many would be sleeping.
    The obvious hope is that the missing sailors somehow made it off the ship and into the water but I imagine we are going to find the 10 of them on board once divers have a chance to enter the flooded portions of the ship.
    Heartbreaking.

    • Curtis Conway

      That is the location of stacked berthing compartments. My rack on the Cruiser used to be at the waterline on the Starboard side. I’m wondering if collision was sounded this time either? An earlier suggestion was about this, and Fitz being IAMD capable ships.

      • NavySubNuke

        One of my COs always said his one wish was to be in control when his career ended so never hesitate to call him should we in any way have doubts about what was happening or our ability to understand the situation.
        Hard to believe it happened twice — we’ll see what the report says in another few months.
        I also wouldn’t be surprised to see NR called in to investigate this one. If anyone in the Navy knows how to take a wire brush to a situation and get truly to the bottom of the rust it is NR — just ask the Air Force after the “Donald Report” led to Bob Gates firing the Sec Air Force and the CoS of the Air Force per “Duty”.

        • Curtis Conway

          I fear we have had too many years of politically correct selections having been made and our warriors are diminishing. Some of this stuff is basic survival instinct missing in the individuals involved. Responsibility to duty and to your fellow man may be involved, and if this is the case . . . I don’t even want to go there. More than one of my commanders told me that the ranks were full of a cross section of America. Well those folks are pulling down statues because they can cant grow with HiStory, and like the Liberal Mindset, believe all they have to do is remove what offends them, and everything will be alright. Life is not fair! Time to grow up.

          • Cetus

            “More than one of my commanders told me that the ranks were full of a cross section of America.”
            They’re also marching with swastikas and giving the Hitler salute. Politicizing this doesn’t fix the problem

          • Curtis Conway

            We have to deal with those individuals who actually make it into a uniform too, and they are usually not Eagle Scouts. Today the focus is on those who are more focuses about ‘who they want to change themselves into’, with others paying the bill, than DEFENDING THE NATION ! . . which is the primary mission of the Armed Forces of the United States . . . NOT social engineering, or helping others to find themselves’!

          • mecengdvr

            First, you weren’t on that bridge so making assumptions at this point is absurd. Second, if pulling down statues that were originally installed when local governments were protesting federal opposition to Jim Crow laws and segregation somehow makes people poor watchstanders….wow. You clearly have created the political equivalent to a unified string theory that ties all political actions together, regardless of how unrelated they seem to the rest of us. By the way, people want the monuments to a failed rebellion gone because the political climate associated with when they were installed (e.g. repeal of Jim Crow Laws and segregation). For this reason, these monuments represent government sponsored racism and a war that had as much to do with maintaining the institution of slavery as anything else (as stated clearly in the “Declaration of Causes of Secession” submitted by the first 7 states to secede). Not because it “offends” them. But if people’s political views were really that simplistic, then folks like you could simply stop getting offended that the statues are going away and everything would be ok. But it’s not that simple is it.

          • Curtis Conway

            We are not going to agree on this one. Learn from HiStory or you are bound to repeat it. Taking away the reminders, particularly when they stimulate conversation that requires people to discuss the issues and face their short comings forcing them to grow a little bit, does not solve the problem, and the statues in no way support the declaration of secession, or support slavery. They recognize the service of the individual so honored, and who they eventually became. The very manner in which the statue is presented tells the story, and most folks don’t even understand that. If he is depicted upon a horse (served with bravery and distinction), or is the horse rearing up with the hoofs off the ground (died in combat). Robert E. Lee abhorred slavery as did the Founding Fathers. That is why George Washington and Thomas Jefferson included their desires that all their slaves be freed upon their death. During their lives the slaves in their employ fared much better than those owned by others. Evidently, no one teaches the HiStory of the World, These United States, and your particular state as we once did, and the country suffers for it.

          • Curtis Conway

            IF . . . the Bridge Crew was SOOOO absorbed in their task . . . that they FORGOT their basic function (safeguard the ship and the crew), then you have made my case. “SOUND COLLISION” and Stop Killing sailors sleeping in their racks in the wee hours of the morning. REFTRA, where are you when we need you?!

        • Alex Kong

          for the USS Fitzgerald happened around 2 in the morning falling sleep chances are high and CIC is useless when other surface contacts within few hundred yard, it is up to bridge watch team and look out’s responsibility to keep the ship safe. for the USS McCain i don’t know how they got hit by an oil tanker 5 in the morning when reveille just ahead.

          • Cetus

            Maybe the CIC team in subs is useless in those situations, but the CICs on the ships I served in didn’t have any problems tracking close in contacts.

  • Malaysia also sent ships to assist

  • Ok next time I’ll get someone to crash into you and your family, this kind of thing happens.

    PS: Tell me how this is MAGA?

  • Ed L

    Okay these collisions are happening in the theater of operations with soon to be Peoples Empire of China. I see a pattern developing. Anyone want to put money on a 3rd Burke DDG getting whack by a merchant within the next couple of weeks. Isn’t there a plan to upgrade all the Burkes to being able to carry out the BMD mission. These Merchant Ships were flag in countries were not many questions are asked.

    • Layla

      BINGO.

    • Duane

      If that was all it took to defeat our Navy, then we wouldn’t have a Navy worth a thing.

      It is the responsibility of all ship commanders and their officers and crew to protect the safety of the ship, whether in battle or normal navigation, at anchor, and at the dock. At all times. Regardless of what any other vessel or aircraft does.

    • NavySubNuke

      It is hard to claim there is some sort of conspiracy at work when the ship in question, at least in the case of the Fitz, never even sounded the collision alarm. That they so thoroughly lost track of the situation that the CO was still asleep in his rack tells you all you need to know about how aware the bridge team was. 30000 ton merchants don’t just “sneak” up on you when you are on the surface and have lookouts stationed.
      The fact that berthing was once again flooded and we once again have missing sailors leads me to believe the same thing happened again on McCain and once again sailors were awakened not by the ships alarm but by a crash, the rending of metal, and a flood of water.

      • OldSaltUSNR

        There were apparently two merchants traveling in parallel course (Fitz collision), which indeed, could have been confusing. However, the OOD, JOOD, NAV, and CIC would have to be ALL partying pretty hard not to detect course changes or separation between those two tango’s.

        That lack of a collision alarm is seriously disturbing. Even if I’m the busiest OOD in the world with my career flashing before my eyes, with any target CBDR within 800-1000 yards in or near a highly traveled navigation waterway in the middle of the night, I would be considering sounding collision. Lives are at stake – my shipmate’s lives. How could he have not ordered that, and how could the CO be still in his at sea stateroom? (Maybe I’m showing my own ignorance; I wasn’t a ship driver, but I had the same training.)

        The final report will hopefully, be revealing.

        • Refguy

          Purple Haze?

      • Duane

        Yes, exactly. As an old submariner, logic and shiphandling norms suggest that anytime a ship is navigating in close proximity of maneuvering ships that the Maneuvering Watch be set, or something very similar to that. In other words the best watchstanders are at the critical watchstations, everybody is alert, and everything is handled with the utmost of professionalism. Somebody better be prepared to sound that collision alarm while there is still time to react.

        Being a nuke myself, after I qualified, my normal Maneuvering Watch-station was at the reactor controls panel, so I and my fellow nukes’ only exposure to the navigational process was listening in on the sound powered phones, and responding to bell changes.

        But I will never forget our boat’s all nighter spent transiting slowly on the surface into Hong Kong for a dawn arrival. After I was relieved from watch, and finished my midrats, I went to Control and requested permission to go up on the bridge – a rare experience for us nukes. Climbing up to the bridge and standing on deck, I was astounded by the sight of many dozens, possibly hundreds, of lanterns bobbing all around us for miles around, going in all directions – the ubiquitous Chinese junks and fishing boats, with some merchant ships mixed in – and us powering along threading the needle. I knew better than to utter even one word out loud, just stood in awe. My respect for our OOD and his lookouts on the bridge, and the QM and radar operator and the tracking party below in Control, and the sonar “girls” in their darkened sonar room, jumped enormously. Until that moment I had never quite realized the challenges of conning a submarine on the surface in immensely crowded waters at night.

      • ⭐️ Orphan 🐝

        I read the the CO was on the bridge of the Fitz when this occurred. That is where he received a serious head injury. I saw the picture of his quarters which was absolutely crushed. Had he of been in there sleeping he would have been dead.

        • NavySubNuke

          You should actually read the report – it very clearly states he was in his stateroom and the actions the crew had to take to successfully retrieve him since he was actually hanging outside of the ship by the time they got to him.
          If anyone tells you this isn’t true and they know better you should consider the source carefully…..

          • ⭐️ Orphan 🐝

            Ty. I will. Where do I find that report?

          • NavySubNuke

            It is here on this page — headline is: “Document: Investigation into the Deaths of 7 Sailors Aboard USS Fitzgerald” with a date of August 17, 2017 6:30 PM
            I tried to post the direct link but links are blocked just click on the banner at the top and scroll down.

          • ⭐️ Orphan 🐝

            Thanks a million:) I found it.

    • Andrew Mutch

      What is the pattern?

      • Curtis Conway

        It may be IAMD ships going out of action.

  • ⭐️ Orphan 🐝

    Horrific! 10 more sailors missing. ☹️

    • Dan Cabral

      I was on the USS Kincaid (DD-965) when it collided with a tanker in the Strait of Malacca Nov 1989. Eerily similar, too eerily similar.

      • ⭐️ Orphan 🐝

        God bless! I wonder if this intentional? I don’t know…. a serious lack of training for this class of ship? So many questions….

  • Duane

    This has nothing to do with probability – probability deals with randomness surrounding defined processes, like rolling a dice. Ships don’t randomly and mindlessly sail around and occasionally hit stuff. Ships are navigated and conned by thinking human beings, trained and carefully selected, with highly evolved operating procedures honed over hundreds of years, and aided with navigation technology. The “probability” of this kind of accident should be zero, given the multiplicity and redundancy of human minds, machines, procedures, and intents. These incidents occur only when failures occur, and the failures are virtually always human rather than machine.

    • Layla

      Unless they are intentional.

    • Tony Klimas

      Op Tempo itself might not be a direct cause, but not having enough ships leads to less time for work-ups and training and more time on-station doing whatever needs to be done. Deployments are much longer than the ones I did in the 80s and 90s and everything I see (albeit from a distance) shows that REFTRA, INSURV, OPPEs , etc, are not the same intensity as they were back in the day. If ships fails these inspections today, who goes in their place? I think no one goes because there are no other ships, so it’s not too hard to conclude the standards could slip as the Navy struggles to meet many commitments with limited resources.

      • Duane

        We had very long deployments in the mid-to-late 70s when I served, at the height of the Cold War, which provided a constant ops tempo that nobody in the service today would comprehend, except maybe the oldest of the admirals who are up in their late 50s and 60s today (like me – except for the Admiral part!). On nuke subs, we were always short handed in the Engineering Department, of which I was part, and especially in Reactor Controls, of which I was also part. ROs could easily leave the Navy and without further schooling get a fat salary at the commercial nuke plants, so we were always short handed, despite big reenlistment bonuses. I spent probably at least 1/3 of my four years on the boat in port-and- starboard watchstanding, and P&S in-port duty days because of that. When we weren’t deployed at sea, then we were doing refits, or weekly ops, or overhaul. P&S duty at sea translates into about a 120 hour work week, between watchstanding, maintenance, field day, operator training, and drills, basically no down time at all – just work, chow, and a little bits of sleep between drills. We did just fine, never an incident … but it was very hard on us just the same. We still won multiple Engineering Es and Battle Es and passed our ORSE and won multiple unit commendations, despite all that.

        I don’t buy the Ops Tempo explanation at all.

        It’s much more about expectations, at all levels, from senior fleet command down to the individual watchstanders.

        • m a

          But you and I served when there were not women on board.
          In today’s environment, women are a part of the crew and if they get pregnant they are left behind— and I have been told the ship does not receive a replacement. They operate short-handed, since the Navy doesn’t want to just shift the burden to other ships in the squadron. You’d have the same guy(s) bouncing ship to ship trying to make up the slack.
          Not sure if this is part of the issue– under-manning with less watch sections or longer watches to make up for missing personnel.

        • Tony Klimas

          You’re making valid points, but the Optempo angle is not so much that people are overworked but that with fewer ships and many commitments, there is pressure to lower standards.

          I was a SWO in the late 80s and early 90s. When one of the Cruisers in 7th fleet failed an OPPE, my ship took it’s place and took over that ship’s commitments. Today – when a ship fails a major inspection, there is no other ship to take it’s place which then creates pressure on those who do those inspections to not fail ships. Sure – if it’s something major, then they fail, but some minor things…let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.

          It might be subtle but I am speculating this is the norm in the just over 200 ship Navy we have today. This lowering of standards leads to crews who aren’t ready when things go wrong. We fight the way we train and if there is no time to train and no time to remediate deficiencies …well we can figure out the rest.

          • Duane

            Thank you, Tony, for your reasoned responses here in this thread (unlike some others). The numbers you cite are not quite correct, though, per US Navy figures.

            As of the end of 2016, the US Navy had a total of 204 combatant warships, plus another 71 combatant other (commissioned warships, such as auxiliaries), for a total of 275. 430 total ships including the non-commissioned supply and support ships. That’s only slightly down from the Bush 43 years where we dropped below 300 commissioned warships for the first time since well before World War Two, generally hovering around 280 ships.

            There’s been no trend in fleet size since 2003, 14 years ago. We generally flit around in the 270s to 280s. The threat level for the Navy is perceived by many to be higher now than a decade ago due to increased shipbuilding by the Chinese, but the “operational pace” is if anything significantly less than it was in 2003 given that the war in Iraq is now almost entirely being conducted by the Iraqis with some support by US warbirds, shared between the Air Force and Navy. The sortie levels are far below the years of the hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. No hot wars are currently going on in the western Pacific.

            The real concerns over operational pace were mainly in the early to mid 00s when we were fighting two very hot land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus the world wide “war on terror” when AQ was a far bigger threat than it is today.

            There is now going to be a temporary strain on our West Pac naval forces with two of our Arleigh Burkes now out of service for at least the next few months, perhaps a year or more.

          • Tony Klimas

            I guess to be clear, for comparison’s sake I am comparing the Navy that I served in – 80s through early 90s where the fleet was much larger relatively speaking and I’m not sure our commitments were much different (multiple theaters and threats) than today. Most of the cutting started after the cold war ended in the early 90s during the Clinton years, so you are correct in that nothing has changed much since President Bush 43 including the fact (in my opinion) that we are trying to do too much with too little resulting in impacts to training and readiness. I’m a long way removed from all this stuff, so perhaps I am missing a lot.

  • Steveb

    I admit I have never served on a navy ship, but after nearly 30 years at Raytheon I have a pretty good idea how sensors work. Between the radar, infrared and satellite feeds there was information on everything within miles of the ship. So what happened, was it information overload or was no one paying attention? Hope that the last 8 years focus on social engineering didn’t result in seamanship being dropped at the academy.

    • Layla

      Under the Rules of the Road, the destroyer had the right of way. I’m betting this was another merchant ship on autopilot. That’s the going excuse, isn’t it? Sailors are going to have to be trained that merchants are now to be considered combatants in situations like this, no differently than an approaching enemy patrol boat.

      • Duane

        No – stow it with your hysteria. Merchant ships aren’t targeting US military ships. We already know that the Navy blames the Fitz for its collision earlier this summer.

        Whether or not the McCain was burdened, it is the responsibility of the commander and crew to avoid collisions, and never, ever depend upon the other vessel’s action for your own ship’s safety. Right of way only matters for assessing commercial and criminal liability after the incident. The McCain is a much smaller, faster, and more maneuverable ship than any laden tanker, even a relatively small one like this one that is still nearly four times the displacement of the McCain. The McCain is equipped with radar and sonar and IR sensors and target tracking computers, along with human lookouts, all of which and whom the mission must always be to protect the safety of the ship, even when other ships are in apparent violation of the international navigation rules.

        We must wait for the investigation results before assigning any particular causes or assessing blame. But regardless, this kind of accident should never happen, let alone twice in two months.

        • Danger_Dan

          Duane, “spot on!”

        • Do they use IR for navigation or just as a gun sight?

          • Duane

            Night vision viewing devices are readily available to the Navy, even Jihadis have and use them. I would expect that operating in congested waters would be one of those situations in which it would be helpful to equip at least one or a couple of watchstanders with them at all times. All of our MH-60 operators have and use them, and have for many years, decades. Do the DDG COs have and use them for night time lookout duty? I dunno … maybe someone with recent OOD or lookout experience would have the answer to that. If the answer is no, then they better get some!

  • Phantombite

    Lets hope that there is good news about the missing sailors.

  • Layla

    When is it going to occur to US Intelligence that these are not accidents? Navy ships rarely have something like this happen. One might not be questioned, but this has to be. Two ships have been knocked out of commission. Will it me more soon?

    • Duane

      Stow it. We already know that the Fitz was at fault for the collision earlier this summer. Slow moving merchant ships, even if they actually intended to ram US warships, should never be able to do so if the warship’s CO and crew are doing their jobs properly. If merchantmen could so easily take out our warships as you say, then we wouldn’t have a Navy worth a seaman’s spit.

    • Ed L

      my thoughts exactly

    • Andrew Mutch

      Please share your valuable insights into how slow lumbering cargo ships are managing to sneak up and crash into high speed destroyers equipped with the most sophisticated technology.

      • John Locke

        When you’re in an area as congested as the SoM and everyone is going about the same speed for safety of navigation/restricted maneuvering it wouldn’t be hard for a merchant to do.

        • Andrew Mutch

          What US naval vessel would allow a merchant vessel to get close enough to even make that a possibility?

          • John Locke

            It’s congested. Your options are limited.

  • Curtis Conway

    I am speechless. The US Navy Officer Corps has a lot to answer for today, particularly a Chain of Command who would put anyone on watch who is not qualified to stand that watch station. There is no wonder the recent US Naval Proceedings had so many articles on Seamanship. I am also disappointed in CIC, the quatermasters, sonar techs, lookouts, CIC Sup for the Surface Watch, and the OOD, JOOD, and most of all, the individual who signed off their qualifications on these watch stations. I sincerely hope this is not an indication that all of these people no longer exist in the current ships structure, and their watch functions have been changed to something else. There is a term called ‘maintaining the bubble’, and EVERYONE!!!!!! involved in the ‘Watch’ are supposed to be up to speed so the ship is able to react (even in a combatant way) when on watch, at all times, when in theater. OBVIOUSLY this is NO LONGER the case in the US Navy Surface Fleet today. Prove me wrong . . . please!

    • Alex Kong

      You are not wrong. Gundeck pqs don’t know don’t tell friends over families. Self greater than ship and shipmates. Etc. Too many that guy in the navy.

  • Durak

    The US Navy didn’t learn a thing with DDG 62, now DDG 56 gets whacked the same way. Nobody else in the history of naval warfare ever got exposed as incompetent this bad. The Chinese and Iran Navies are having a good laugh.

  • OldSaltUSNR

    His mind may have been focused on other things (you know how involved the CINC job can be), and he was as yet uninformed by the chain of command (you know how that is, maybe the CofC wanted to get it’s facts straight after a SECOND collision at sea in two months).

    Your comment was a cheap political shot. (No, I’m not a “Trumper”, either, just a fair minded man.)

    • John Locke

      As a leader my first impulse would be to express concern for the possibility of any missing, killed or injured and extend sympathies to their families. You really don’t need facts for that.

      • OldSaltUSNR

        Yeah, I guess I’d be totally unqualified as a “leader” in your book. My first response would have been “What, AGAIN?!” followed by less printable language. I care about my men, but I’m kind of a “mission oriented” kind of guy.

  • 5te6

    Your comment offers nothing to this story

  • CharleyA

    “Safety Stand Downs” are a joke invented by command to make it look like they are doing something (about something they have little direct control over.) Said it.

    What I don’t understand is why the mishap destroyers do not seem to have been even passively monitoring AIS squawks from commercial vessels. These packets contain all the info a vessel needs to avoid a collision with a large participating vessel. Then there is surface search radar (although these may be off / on standby for EMCOM or mx reasons.) And watch standers seemingly unaware there are vessels on potential collision courses? Do we not have various ESM and IR systems aboard that can detect nearby vessels? Are these systems ineffective in crowded sea lanes?

    If history is a measure, the immediate command staff will be relieved just because. But what we should be looking at are systems and policies – i.e. upper level leadership – for culpability. Maybe it’s shipboard command arrogance; maybe it’s shoreside hubris, but we are clearly doing something wrong at the macro scale.

    • OldSaltUSNR

      I guess it depends on the command, AND how operational the stand down is. (Yes, there are those “human resource”, and .. uh … social engineering type stand downs.)

      Ours were significant. They are what the command makes of them, and the command takes it’s guidance from SURFPAC.

    • John Locke

      ESM (ES in today’s U.S. Navy) doesn’t give you range, course or speed. You could SWAG it if you were triangulating with other ships but that wouldn’t be nearly accurate enough for the Nav detail to base any decisions on. IR, the USCG makes better use of, has better EO/IR gear than the USN.

      • publius_maximus_III

        I would guess that the Coast Guard has many more close-in encounters with other vessels than the USN, too. Today’s modern Man-o-War no longer uses grappling hooks and cutlasses.

    • kye154

      They make a TDC-GPX2 LIDAR anti-collision systems for DRONES. It is very compact, simple, and cheap. So, why isn’t the U.S. Navy using something similar to this on board its ships?

      Also, I would like to point out, the U.S. Navy officer corps is not up to snuff. I have noticed a significant deterioration in the quality of officers in the navy since the early 1990’s. They also don’t seem to have much care for the people serving under them either. It is really is a wonder why American sailors under their command, haven’t had a mutiny. Anyone remember the escapades of Capt. Holly Graf? She was from the same lot of officers they put in command.

  • waveshaper1

    If you look at the AIS track of the Alnic MC and all the other commercial ships right behind the Alnic, Its fairly easy to see exactly where the collision occurred . This AIS reference actually shows the automated/real time movement of all these ships. The Alnic and other ships in the inbound shipping lane are all heading in the same direction. The Alnic is travel at about 9.5 to 10 knots on a strait course and in the channel. The Alnic speed drops from 10 knots to 1.5 knots right at the 50/51 second mark. Also, this is the exact time when all the other ships following the Alnic turn to starboard, apparently to avoid this collision. IMHO (based on the AIS tracks) there is only one way the USS John McCain could of got hit on the port side at that angle and that is “they were crossing the inbound shipping channel from north to south at about a 45 degree angle from what is the normal direction of the traffic flow”. Reference – Google “Youtube Collision off coast of Singapore between US destroyer and tanker” and look at the 47 to 52 second portion. Note; I’m probably wrong and this an early attempt to put a few pieces of this puzzling collision together. Need more pieces/info.
    Note; Keep in mind that the 50 to 51 second (2 seconds) timeframe on this automated AIS track video is probably 4 to 6 minutes in real world “clock time”.

    • OldSaltUSNR

      Boy, with all those tracks and not knowing the position of the McCain, if you can make heads or tails out of that AIS report, “you’re a better man than me, Gunga Din”. I noticed that the Hyundai Global was transiting down what appears to be the middle of the channel, and several tracks crossed traffic into the opposite “lane” of the channel. This may have been a situation where the McCain was attempting to avoid collision with another “bad actor”, or several, and found itself out of time to avoid the Alnic MC.

      Great stuff, though. Appreciate it.

      (Edit: There were also two Chinese vessels running in parallel just behind the Alnic, and one nearer the middle of the channel, so if ya want to feed the “Chinese sneak attack” scenario, well, there ya go. But how did they sneak the sedatives into the McCain’s tea and coffee supply?)

      • David A. Tuttle

        Sonic wave technology as in cuba embassy?

  • Rhino601

    Not being a ship driver, help me to visualize what the Straits of Malacca looks like on a typical day. Is the separation between ships less than one would prefer? Are ships overtaking one another? Do the ships stay in their “lanes” so as not to pass between two ships going in the opposite direction. Thanks.

    • John Locke

      Imagine going into the first turn at the Indy 500.

    • Tony Klimas

      It’s quite crowded and busy and the several times I transited that area back in the late 80s and early 90s as NAV on a Cruiser, we would always set extra lookouts and watches during the time we were in the straits. So yes – the 10,000 yards you would like to keep between yourself and everyone else isn’t really possible and you have people overtaking and others crossing, so pretty complicated. Piracy has also been problem there in the past, so it’s not uncommon for ships to want to be around a warship making a transit.

      I think the busiest and scariest waterway I ever transited was the English Channel in October – think fog, rain, really fast ferries coming out of nowhere – with the Straits of Hormuz during Desert Shield being second (full GQ for that one and an Iranian welcome) but the Straits of Malacca are nothing to take lightly.

      • Rhino601

        Thanks much for an articulate, understandable response.

    • Rhino601

      I looked at the AIS track and answered my own questions.

  • leroy

    A third incident is probably around the corner unless two things happen. First, more than the CO/XO/MCPO has to be fired – they need to fire an Admiral or two because this is some kind of a failure in leadership that can be traced beyond a ship’s bridge. Second, a new fleet-wide standing order has to be issued so that no ship can ever be allowed to get into such a position of extremis like this again. I don’t know what that change to SOPs would be because I have no experience operating ships but as with aircraft ops, there has got to be some correction in procedures that assures this does not happen again. To me this incident, this second incident in as many months, which was almost a duplicate of the Fitzgerald’s, is beyond comprehension.

    BTW – I hope to God General Quarters was sounded before this collision occurred to at least give those asleep a fighting chance at survival.

    • John Locke

      What, go around the SoM?
      When you are in an area as congested as that you can do everything right but it may come down to the incompetence of the other guy.

      • leroy

        Problem is there are many guys who are involved, each one double-checking the other. And BTW I say sound GQ because at what point will terrorists or sympathizers start using their commercial ships as weapons of attack? Remember, just because someone is working for a shipping company doesn’t mean he isn’t a fanatic. Look at a couple of purposely-crashed airliners (by their pilots) for guidance. Or even a possible commandeering of a vessel by a group that somehow got onboard, and understood how to drive a ship. Drive it right into one of our warships. Who knows – next time it could be a carrier. However unlikely that seems. Even possibly a “friendly” warship. Got to be on-guard always.

        • John Locke

          I meant other guy as in on the other commercial ships around you not the watch team on the DDG.

  • Rhino601

    What the heck does Trump have to do with it, clown? I guess Hillary would have kept this from happening. Idiot.

  • kye154

    Good thing it wasn’t a North Korean, Chinese, or Russian torpedo. As flimsy as both the hulls of the McCain and the Fitzgerald seem to be constructed, it is pretty obvious, they would never survive a torpedo attack. And, what about that superb navigational radar that is onboard each ship? Why is it that there is anti-collision features on commercial aircraft, but not on naval ships? Let it be said: North Korea certainly has nothing to worry about, when we disable or sink our own ships.

    • Rhino601

      You sound delighted by collision…hoping for dead sailors?

      • kye154

        No, and your comment was a pretty shallow remark. What I am saying, the American naval vessels don’t seem to be up to snuff. With all the technology that is supposedly available to the U.S. Navy today, it seems like they are not using it, (like the anti-collision alert systems, or hull construction that is inferior to ships built 40 years ago). Seems like the U.S. Navy is putting its sailors at risk, and these are suppose to be warships designed for abuse in war? (Cough, cough)!! These unfortunate accidents reveal a lot about how poorly these warships will do in wartime.

        • Rhino601

          Here is another interesting video. Each new ship design goes through a full scale “ship shock test” to ensure compliance with MIL-S-901D.

          The ship being tested is the same basic ship as Fitzgerald and McCain.

        • Rhino601

          During the Falkland’s War (1982) the Brits torpedoed a former WWII US light cruiser being used by the Argentinians. The order to abandon ship came 20 minutes after the first explosion. 323 men died.

    • DaSaint

      You sound silly. Neither ship sank, after being struck by vessels 2 to 3 times their displacement. It actually suggests how well made they are, and that their compartmentation works, similar to what would be needed in actual battle damage.

      And BTW, aircraft collide and even crash. Sometimes they even disappear. It happens.

      • El_Sid

        Both were mission-killed, and the Fitz in particular might have been in serious trouble if she had been mid-ocean. And I don’t think you can compare being rammed at 15 kts with the effect of a weapon that would penetrate further into the hull before exploding, plus the fire from unspent missile fuel etc.

        As I said in a previous post, Iran taking down an RQ-170 shows what can happen if you mess with things like GPS, when you depend too heavily on screens without looking out of the window. I hope this and the Fitz aren’t the result of the red team messing with USN sensors, but I don’t think you can rule it out at present.

        • DaSaint

          Nothing should be ruled out.

  • Duane

    Do you understand what the actual definition is of probability, in the context of predicting future outcomes, as in statistical analysis? Randomness can only be defined and quantified when all of the non-random factors are accounted for. Factors like the quality of candidate selected for assignment to a vessel; quality of the training of those persons; quality of the procedures that govern their actions; quality of the recurrent training and drills; the psychological condition and pathologies of the CO, officers, and crew on watch, which can change at a moment’s notice (death in the family, substance abuse, development of psychoses, etc. etc.); quality of the superior commanders and their expectations for and methods of achieving compliance of their warships with established naval standards of performance. On and on and on. None of those factors are random – they are all dependent upon human factors.

    We’ve had US naval vessels operating in and around the Malacca straits since the 19th century .. and in many more equally or more crowded sea lanes across the world (as I describe elsewhere in this thread, try navigating and threading the needle between hundreds of vessels at night in the approaches to Hong kong; another commenter mentioned the English Channel). Predicting human performance under challenging conditions, without regard to the factors involved in human performance, does not boil down to a single probability number between 0 and 1.

  • Sara Lee

    It had a tumor…..

  • waveshaper1

    The USS Kincaid collided with a commercial ship in this same AO back in 1989 (lots of damage/a really big hole in their ship/and lots of casualties). I just read the official navy report on this collision, what a cluster. They had no clue where they were at. They were zigigng and zagging in an out of both one way shipping lanes and the buffer zone separating the two lanes at 45 degree angles, cutting off commercial ships left and right. They are lucky they didn’t get hit 3 or 4 times before they finally collided with a commercial ship.

  • AZbob

    The collision the DDG56 just endured puts an end to the distinguished discourse of retired skippers bemoaning the challenge and difficulty of navigating a warship. After the Fitzgerald collision and prior to the released findings of
    last week we read accounts of how hard it is to stay afloat and untouched.

    Well, I submit that if you are unable to drive a DDG (built for speed and maneuverability) well enough to dodge a container ship or an oil
    tanker, then you are not fit for surface sea duty and neither are the bridge
    watch standers.

    DESRON15 has lost 25% of its fighting capability in just two
    months, in peace time.

    If the investigation is done with true intent to rectify
    this situation then it needs to follow the path that Admirals Nimitz and
    Kincaid did in the 7th Fleet with a situation like this.

    Here’s hoping the US Navy can get itself squared away again,
    and soon.

    And to somewhat qualify my comments: I sailed my 30,000 nautical miles in the USN through the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans, the North, Norwegian, Greenland, Barents and Mediterranean Seas. Made 10
    passages submerged through the Strait of Gibraltar… and somehow never collided with anything.

    • John Locke

      Well good for you. In 1968 U.S. subs were involved in 4 collisions.

  • james flynn

    Curious.. How many bridge watchstanders, including lookouts, on a modern destroyer steaming at night under normal conditions?

    • John Locke

      Usually in that area, going through those straights or entering port (some reports say they were entering port) the Nav Detail is set which augments the normal underway bridge and CIC watch standers.

      • james flynn

        Thanks. Those straights and its approaches rival those of the English Channel and Gibraltar. Would it be correct to assume that the skipper would be on the bridge?
        Old Guy.

        • John Locke

          Normally, yes, observing. The CO retains the right to take the conn though. Until the details are released it’s hard to tell what watch configuration was in place at the time of the incident.

  • I have $20 bucks that says, the Captain, XO, COB & the Nav officer will be fired from the US Navy after all is said and done. I think the Admiral is not in a happy mood.

    • @USS_Fallujah

      That’s basically a given, unless it was a physical failure on the ship leading to a situation where the DDG was helpless to avoid a collision and the tanker was non-responsive. Even then the command triumvirate would still likely get sacked. I’ve heard that there was a steering casualty prior to the collision, such failures can be overcome with redundant systems, but I could envision a scenario where at a critical juncture in a crossing situation they lost steering and were hit before they could get control back.

  • james flynn

    How can modern skippers sleep at night?

  • DaSaint

    “Four of the injured were medically evacuated by a Singapore Armed Forces helicopter to a hospital in Singapore for non-life threatening injuries.”

    “Additionally, MH-60S helicopters and MV-22 Ospreys from the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) are in the area providing search and rescue assistance.”

    My thoughts and prayers to the families of the 10 missing crewmembers. I pray God that somehow they are found alive, but I fear that’s not the case. I’m happy that the injured were medevac by friendly helicopter to a local hospital, but IMO, we should never launch another warship that doesn’t have its own organic manned helicopter capability, or two. The delays can be fatal. But that’s fir another time.

  • Phantombite

    My first thought was “yeah right” but then drifted to “sounds about right”. Pointy end of the spear might need a little work.

  • Steve Richter

    Why does the Navy equipment not sound an alarm when another ship is approaching on a collision course?

    • John Locke

      Because Mercedes-Benz didn’t build them.

      • Steve Richter

        is it possible to rig something up? maybe an iPhone app?

    • OldSaltUSNR

      In my day it was called “maneuvering board”, or “moboard” for short, and the “alarm” was the JOOD. I have to believe that this is integrated into some sort of computerized equipment today. However, if the JOOD is correctly plotting contacts and checking them against moboard, he knows if a contact is CBDR. When a contact is CBDR in the Strait of Malacca, coffee is not required to remain alert, however bladders tend to empty “automatically”.

      Given there were at least a half dozen nearby contacts on the AIS plot alone, and almost certainly, 2x or 3x more smaller ships, fishing trawlers, and etc. NOT broadcasting their position on AIS, it’s certain that the bridge on the McCain was a busy place. If everything was automated, the alarm would be ringing off the wall all the time in a transit like this.

      I am confident that the McCain was tracking contacts, and that the Bridge and CIC watch simply lost the bubble on a contact, one very large, merchant contact that ended up holing them. Again, given the location and having transited that Strait at least a half dozen times (maybe eight, I lost count), I would not be surprised if the McCain was not avoiding other contacts when she crossed the bow of the merchant. That would account for how the merchant was “overtaking” a Navy DDG, i.e. the DDG was traveling across the merchant’s track trying to avoid something or someone else. It doesn’t excuse failures of the command and bridge crew, but it would help explain this as a “forced error” rather than simply the OOD/CIC being asleep at the helm.

  • Itsallinterconnected

    Could these ships’ systems have been hacked? It beggars belief that they would be so clueless about the imminent danger of approaching ships . . . maybe they were getting false info from their tech. But they should still have looked out the window . . .

  • El_Sid

    The Iwo Jimians weren’t so bad, you just had to stab them with a flag.

    Now the Midwaynos and the Coralcians, they were real trouble….

  • scottled

    Mr. LaGrone – Your very first sentence is so inappropriately wrong, and at such a critical juncture of misstatement! Seriously, “The U.S. guided-missile that was struck by a chemical tanker….?” “U.S. guided missile?” “Struck?” Does anybody proofread this stuff?! Spellcheck software is not going to catch the missing “…destroyer” part that you failed to include. If an author actively sought a worse place to miss one important element of a sentence, you nailed it. Nitpicking, maybe. I went through Naval training to be an intel officer, which included preparing and presenting briefings, both oral and written. I can only cringe in recollection as to what wrath this level of misspeaking would unleash upon the miscreant. Please remember who you represent.

  • scottled

    I wonder who she thought we fought at the Battle of Cowpens….

  • Bruce Marshall

    Third paragraph in story:

    In contrast to the entrance of USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) into Yokosuka, Japan in June, McCain his riding higher in the water, suggesting McCain may have taken on less water.

    Since when have we started addressing our warships by the masculin “his” or “him?” That is a Russian tradition. The correct label would be “her,” despite the ship being named after a man. Small detail, but an indicator.

    • wilkinak

      Probably a typo rather any sort of indicator. The sentence reads well as “McCain IS riding higher in the water..” McCain HIS riding higher makes no sense whatsoever.

  • Cetus

    She is a product of the American education system, which seems to value “practical” education that can be used to get jobs to teaching the next generation where they came from and how to think.

  • publius_maximus_III

    Did it knock the cover off one of those missile tubes?

  • Tony Klimas

    Hey- I graduated in 1987 and went SWO so I sort of remember the “Battle of Iwo Jima”. Isn’t that where they wrote the Marine Corps Hymn? Or was that the Halls of Montezuma? Surface Line…Might Fine.

  • DCPAConservative

    I have never served in the Navy. I totally support and respect the Navy generally and I am sure the vast majority of personnel are very good, highly trained and motivated. I have been operating boats in the day and night for over about 55 years. On top of all of the electronics which must be on that ship and must be of a better quality than the simple radar typically in pleasure and small commercial boats that I think would have shown the other ship, I do not understand how naval personnel could not see a 600 foot ship and not steer the McCain in front of the oncoming tanker. That tanker cannot cannot quickly slow down or change course. Maybe someone can explain it to me. It seems to me that the watch personnel could not have been doing their job.

  • John B. Morgen

    As anyone ever thought about that just maybe these recent collisions be a new form terrorism on the high seas. Maybe?

  • DCPAConservative

    It figures this nonsense is coming from a so called progressive. Blame Trump for everything down to failing to micro manage the helm of a Navy ship. What an asinine comment. But totally in character. Get a brain, yoiu need it.