Home » Budget Industry » Singapore Safety Report on USS John S. McCain Aug. 21, 2017 Collision

Singapore Safety Report on USS John S. McCain Aug. 21, 2017 Collision

The following is the Singapore Ministry of Transport March 8, 2017 report: Safety Investigation Into Collision Between Alnic MC and The USS John S McCain in Singapore Territorial Waters on 21 August 2017.

From the Report:

In the pre-dawn hours of 21 August 2017, the Liberian-registered Alnic MC and the US Naval vessel USS John S McCain collided in the westbound lane of the Singapore Strait, in Singapore territorial waters about 4.6 nautical miles (nm) from Horsburgh Lighthouse. The collision resulted in 10 fatalities on the USS John S McCain.

The safety investigation determined that the USS John S McCain made a sudden turn to Port (left) into the path of Alnic MC because of a series of missteps that took place after propulsion controls were transferred.

When the Bridge team of Alnic MC saw the USS John S McCain turning, it presumed that the USS John S McCain would be able to safely pass ahead. The collision happened within three minutes of the USS John S McCain turning to Port, and the actions taken by Alnic MC were insufficient to avoid the collision.

  • thebard3

    You’re right as far as McCain is concerned, but the Fitzgerald collision was stunning and largely due to sheer incompetence. The close proximity of the two events really put a highlight and public scrutiny on both incidents.

    • Owl

      You know the bridge crew of the Mccain was from the Antietam…which ran itself aground in Tokyo in January?

      • thebard3

        I knew some of the bridge crew were on temporary assignment from a CG. Their permanent station is not detailed in the report so I can only take your word for it.

      • thebard3

        Sorry, I just read the report again and it DOES state that Antietam crewmembers were at he helm of McCain, but it really only impugns their lack of training on the specific differences between the control consoles of the CG and DDG and not their actions. Also the Antietam grounding report doesn’t really seem to indicate any blame associated with the bridge crew other than the command team. It seems to be more of a coincidence than anything else.

  • Bill Peterson

    Not sure I’d ascribe to the “Rah-Rah” theory of naval competence after reading the report cited above. JSM was using unqualified bridge personnel who messed up a fairly routine realignment of helm/throttle responsibilities. The emergency response was ineffective (to be generous) and they crossed the ‘T’ of a merchant without even sounding the danger signal. 10 Sailors dead.

  • john

    There have been more incidents these two get press cause people died.
    USS Porter – super tanker snuck up on it and rammed it
    Iranian incident, sailors without a clue where they were ended up in Iranian waters
    USS Antitiem ran aground due to improper anchoring
    USS Lake Champlain collides with a Korean fishing boat

    • Owl

      You know what’s ‘amusing’ about the situation? The bridge crew. The reason they were on the Mccain was that their previous ship was in for repairs. You might find the name familiar. The Antietam. Guess why it was in for repairs? lol.

      Either the crew is extremely bad luck, or something is seriously wrong with their training. 2 ships, 2 major accidents.

  • kaigun2

    What surprises me is that JSM was entering the TSS and still not at sea and anchor. I transited this area multiple times on different ships. Sea and anchor set early, get settled in before TSS.

    • homey

      yeah i wonder if they even did a straits transit brief..?

  • publius_maximus_III

    So, we have seen several reports from the USN’s perspective about how things happened and why. But unless I’m mistaken, this is our first perspective of the USS McCain collision that also includes the other party’s perspective. Everything seems to agree, but I did note one major omission from what I have read up until now in the USN reports:

    1.12.1 Playback of VTIS data indicates that the VTIS held AM and
    ………JSM on MPA’s radar. VTIS data also showed that AM was
    ………transmitting AIS signals while JSM was not .

    4.2.1 Following the collision, the US Navy issued a directive to all their
    ………assets to switch on the AIS, particularly in areas of high
    ………vessel traffic density, to enable their ships to be identified
    ………by merchant vessels and VTIS authorities.

    To me this is HUGE. It means the USS John McCain (JSM) was -not- transmitting it’s position to show up on the VTIS tracking equipment used by the surrounding commercial vessels, including the Alnic MC (AM) — something which might have helped prevent this collision. I can understand such an action in times of conflict, when to transmit your position to friendly or neutral parties is to also transmit it to non-friendlies. But to do so in peacetime, and in a heavily trafficked sea lane, seems incredibly foolhardy to me. Was that an individual decision made by the ship’s captain, or was it the fleet policy at the time of the collision?

    Had the Master of the AM been tracking the JSM on VTIS instead of making periodic visual contacts, he might have detected a collision path sooner, early enough to do something about it. As it was, he was unable to turn either way to avoid the collision, due to approaching commercial vessels on either side of his ship’s stern. But he could have reduced speed, even come to a full stop, in enough time. In the later “Substitution Test” reenactment by Singapore officials, a second guessing MC ship driver decided to send a “Full astern” signal to the fictional engine room, and sooner in the sequence of events, as opposed to the actual “Half ahead” signal sent by the MC Master, much later in the actual sequence of events.

    Would-a, should-a, could-a.

  • Pete Novick

    “Good crossing in the middle of a channel?”

    -Master of motor vessel Alnic MC, (AM), in a (sarcastic) comment to his bridge watch team at about 0522 local time, after observing USS McCain, (JSM), then overtaking AM on AM’s starboard side at a range of about 600 yards, alter her course to port and placed both ships in extremis.

    Having served in the FDNF, what jumped out of this report was the sentence that read, (Paragraph 1.6.1):

    “JSM departed its homeport of Yokosuka, Japan, on 26 May 2017 for a scheduled six-month deployment in the Western Pacific.”

    When I served in the FDNF, we were considered forward deployed and ships did not deploy from Yokosuka for six month cruises. Usually three months was tops as we worked extensively with JMSDF, ROKN and the navies of other Pacific allies.

    Plus, we were manned at 105% of NMP. As chief engineer, I remember we even got contact reliefs for FN’s.

    CDR, USN (Ret.)

  • Pete Novick

    716 – Excellent comments. Spot on. Don’t know what the long term fix is, but dangling opportunities for SWO’s to, “go off and do other things for a few years, and then come back” which VADM Burke testified before Congress recently was one of the remedies OPNAV was mulling over, is not one of them. Tks.

  • john

    Honorable is well and good, but competence? It seems the Navy has to slow down a bit and figure out how to do better. They are failing at very basic stuff.

  • MarlineSpikeMate

    Sounds good, but the USN is proportionally underway a whole lot less than lets say the US merchant marine, including MSC. Numbers about equal of ships between USMM with MSC and the USN, the USN has a very unproportionately high incident rate in everything from groundings, collisions, engineering casualties, WITH much less underway hours per vessel….

    Don’t pat yourself too hard on the back.

  • BillyP

    At last! A coherent assessment of this collision. But that’s the Good News: The Bad news is that it reveals, in excruciating detail just what a comedy of errors the JSM bridge was. If it wasn’t for the tragedy of ten lives cut short this would a great script for a comedic training video: as it is, we are left with sombre reality that we did to ourselves.

  • BillyP

    Reading the Report in detail I am somewhat at a loss to understand:
    A) The need for 16 people on the Bridge (I just counted the coloured blobs on the graphic) – surely this can’t be right?
    B) Why did the ‘Aft Steering’ make a test rudder movement TOWARDS the close alongside tanker? Surely the CO ordered “Nothing to Port” when control was transferred?
    C) Why are the shaft Pitch and RPM controlled separately? What benefit does the CO (or whoever is in charge) derive from this additional complication? Surely, his/her propulsion order should be “Half Ahead Starboard, Full Ahead Port”, leaving alone the extraneous detail of Pitch and RPM. As for expecting one person to steer AND juggle the RPM AND Pitch on the Port shaft AND the RPM AND Pitch on the Starboard shaft – no wonder the JSM proceeded for so long with reduced power from the Port shaft – and NOBODY noticed!.
    Leaving these details aside, why was the JSM overtaking (for some time) at such a small CPA? Especially when she was, by design, not radar prominent and not using her AIS, all of which would have cast a cloak of uncertainty about her position & velocity vector.
    The JSM was the Give Way vessel and Rule 13 (Overtaking Vessel) states that no subsequent change in relative bearing shall “… relieve her of the duty of keeping clear of the overtaken vessel until she is finally past and clear.” Was the JSM really going to comply with this Rule? Did the CO even KNOW that such a Rule existed?
    Sounds to me like the JSM needlessly (recklessly?) endangered the ship by her positioning and the execution of her overtaking manoeuvre, and then compounded this by the comedic circus act on the bridge.
    And all those people were killed. Tragic

  • BillyP

    Are other USN units run in this fashion? Any? All?
    When it comes to lethal weapons ops do we get The A Team taking charge? Or is it the same crew blundering about bumping into the furniture?
    What scary thoughts. Anybody got any reassuring insights?