Navy: Bodies of Some of the 10 Missing USS John McCain Sailors Have Been Found

August 22, 2017 7:43 AM - Updated: August 22, 2017 3:40 PM
The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) arrives pier side at Changi Naval Base, Republic of Singapore following a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Strait of Malacca. US Navy Photo

Divers have discovered remains of USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) sailors during an evaluation of the ship after it arrived at Changi Naval Base in Singapore, Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift told reporters on Tuesday.

Following McCain’s collision with Liberian-flagged chemical tanker Alnic MC, 10 sailors were reported missing.

Swift, speaking dockside at Changi, also confirmed reports Malaysian naval forces recovered a body at sea, but as of 7 a.m. EST said the Navy had yet determined whether these remains were from McCain. Search and rescue operations will continue, Swift added, until there is no likelihood of discovering anyone.

“We have found remains in the John S. McCain,” Swift said.
“The Malaysian Navy has found some remains as well. It is to be determined if the remains that were discovered by the Malaysian Navy are one of the ten missing sailors but we look forward to starting the process to identifying those remains.”

Swift did not reveal the numbers that Navy and Marine divers discovered in the spaces that were flooded on the ship following the collision. Search and rescue efforts with U.S., Malaysian and Singapore units are ongoing.

The Navy has not released the identities of missing sailors, but some families have contacted newspaper and television media outlets to share what they’ve been told.

The Navy is still evaluating the damage McCain sustained during the collision. After speaking with McCain crew members, Swift said, “It is clear their damage control efforts saved their ship and saved lives.”

Flooding of McCain was halted, Swift said, and the ship was able to assist the search and rescue efforts as it sailed to Singapore, but the extent of damage is still being evaluated.

The Monday collision comes only two months after a merchant ship collided with the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) off the coast of Japan. The resulting flooding on the ship killed seven sailors and cost hundreds of millions in damage to the destroyer.

The McCain and Fitzgerald incidents follow a collision and a grounding of guided-missile cruisers in the Western Pacific this year. The four incidents have prompted Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson to mount an investigation into operations in the region led by U.S. Fleet Forces commander Adm. Phil Davidson.

Ben Werner

Ben Werner

Ben Werner is a staff writer for USNI News. He has worked as a freelance writer in Busan, South Korea, and as a staff writer covering education and publicly traded companies for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., Savannah Morning News in Savannah, Ga., and Baltimore Business Journal. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree from New York University.

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