http://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/20/asia/ ... index.html
10 US Navy sailors missing after destroyer collides with merchant ship
By Brad Lendon, CNN
Updated 0702 GMT (1502 HKT) August 21, 2017
Navy to investigate USS Fitzgerald incident
CORRECTS DATE - The USS Fitzgerald is seen off Shimoda, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan, after the Navy destroyer collided with a merchant ship, Saturday, June 17, 2017. The U.S. Navy says the USS Fitzgerald suffered damage below the water line on its starboard side after it collided with a Philippine-flagged merchant ship. (Iori Sagisawa/Kyodo News via AP)
US Navy: 7 US sailors missing
The Navy's 7th Fleet said the USS John S. McCain collided with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while the destroyer was making its way to a port visit in Singapore. The collision was reported at 5:24 am local time, east of the Malacca Strait, one of the world's most congested shipping routes.
Images from Reuters news agency on Monday afternoon showed a huge, dark hole along the McCain's waterline on the left rear portion of the ship.
The Navy reported significant hull damage to the McCain, saying there was flooding in berthing compartments as well as machinery and communication rooms.
No fuel or oil was seen on the water near the ship, which steamed under its own power to Changi Naval Base in Singapore, arriving Monday afternoon, the Navy said.
Malaysia's Navy said on Twitter that its vessels and an aircraft had joined the search for the missing sailors.
Malaysian officials said the search area encompassed 100 nautical square miles.
They described sea conditions as rough, with waves up to 1 meter (3.2 feet) high.
Military experts said the latest incident, which comes after seven US sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald died in a collision off the coast of Japan in June, calls into question the Navy's training and will likely lead to a serious shake-up among the Navy's leadership.
The McCain is equipped with the Aegis missile defense system, which has been touted as a possible counter to any North Korean missile launch. If it is out of action after Monday's collision, it would be at least the third of 11 Aegis warships based at Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan to be unavailable for deployment.
"I can almost guarantee you that there will be a tumultuous shake up in the senior leadership of at least the 7th Fleet and maybe the Navy in general," CNN military analyst Rick Francona said.
"The Navy is not looking good about now, especially when we need those four Aegis-equipped ships for possible ballistic missile defense in a North Korean scenario," he added.
Two other Aegis warships have been involved in incidents in the western Pacific this year -- one ran aground, while the other collided with a fishing boat.
Oil tanker 'three times bigger'
Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center, said the oil tanker would have been at least three times bigger than the USS John S. McCain.
"Oil tankers are huge and it takes miles for them to change course," he said.
"When you're going into a congested channel, you're supposed to be very alert, track ships around you to a very meticulous degree."
The Malacca Strait, which runs between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singpore, is the world's second busiest waterway according to the World Economic Forum. The collision took place in waters to the east of the Malacca Strait, US authorities said.
At a press conference Monday afternoon, Malaysian authorities said both ships were heading toward Singapore from the South China Sea when the collision occurred. They described the area as very busy, with some 80,000 ships passing through it every year.
Both ships should have reported in to what the Malaysian authorities called a maritime "traffic separation scheme," essentially air traffic control for ships.
Francona said no matter what the tanker did, the faster, more-nimble US destroyer should have been able to avoid a collision.
"How does a state-of-the-art Navy destroyer equipped with multiple radar systems and communications gear with a full bridge watch not see, detect and evade a 30,000 ton slow-moving (10 knots) behemoth?" Francona asked.
Search and rescue
In addition to the 10 missing sailors, the Navy said five were injured in the collision. Four of those were flown by a Singapore Navy helicopter to a hospital in Singapore with non-life-threatening injuries, Navy said.
Search and rescue efforts are under way, the Navy statement said, with helicopters and Marine Corps Osprey aircraft from the amphibious assault ship USS America responding. Singaporean ships and helicopters were also responding, the Navy added.
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Chief of Navy - PTL
KD Handalan, SuperLynx, kapal APMM dan pesawat TUDM dikerah bantu SAR 10 anggota #USSJohnSMcCain yg hilang setelah berlanggar Timur Johor
7:46 PM - Aug 20, 2017
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A US Navy official told CNN the McCain had experienced a loss of steering before the collision, but that steering had been regained.
Merchant marine websites describe the Alnic MC as a 30,000-ton, 600-foot-long oil tanker flying a Liberian flag.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said the Alnic sustained damage to a tank at its bow, about seven meters (23 feet) above the waterline. No one was injured on the tanker, it said, and no oil spill was reported.
The McCain is named for the father and grandfather of US Sen. John McCain. Both of McCain's relatives were US Navy admirals. The senator was a captain in the US Navy.
The vessel is 505 feet long and displaces about 9,000 tons and its homeport is Yokosuka, Japan.
Fourth incident this year
The McCain collision marks the fourth incident involving a US Navy warship in the Pacific this year.
On June 17, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan. That collision resulted in the deaths of seven US sailors. It will be transported to the US for repairs.
On May 9, the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain was struck by a small fishing boat off the Korean Peninsula.
And in late January, the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam ran aground while trying to anchor in Tokyo Bay.
All four of the US warships are equipped with the Aegis missile defense system.
In a report on the Fitzgerald collision released just last week, the Navy it would review its training and qualification procedures.
"The collision was avoidable and both ships demonstrated poor seamanship. Within Fitzgerald, flawed watch stander teamwork and inadequate leadership contributed to the collision," a 7th Fleet statement said.
Earlier this month, the McCain carried out a freedom-of-navigation operation in the South China Sea, sailing within six nautical miles of Mischief Reef, one of the artificial islands built by China in the Spratlys.
CNN's Yazhou Sun, Elaine Ly, Marc Lourdes, Sandi Sidhu, Jim Sciutto and Ryan Browne contributed to this report
As the article points out, this follows rapidly on the court-martial decision in the USS Fitzgerald case
http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/2282993 ... of-duties/
USS Fitzgerald Captain and Two Senior Officers Relieved of Duties By Ivan Pentchoukov, The Epoch Times | August 18, 2017 AT 1:01 PM Last Updated: August 18, 2017 3:26 pm
U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer the USS Fitzgerald arrves at its mother port U.S. Naval Yokosuka Base, Kanagawa Prefecture on June 17, 2017.
(Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer the USS Fitzgerald arrves at its mother port U.S. Naval Yokosuka Base, Kanagawa Prefecture on June 17, 2017. (Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images)
The U.S. Navy relieved the commander of the USS Fitzgerald as well as two senior officers of their duties following an investigation into the events that led to the giant crash that killed seven sailors in June off the coast of Japan.
The Navy also praised the actions of the crew following the crash with container ship ACX Crystal that flooded a compartment of the U.S. destroyer where sailors were sleeping, NPR reported.
“It was also evident from this review that the entire Fitzgerald crew demonstrated real toughness that night,” the Navy said in a statement.
Damage to the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald is seen as the vessel is berthed at its mother port in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo, on June 18, 2017. (KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
Damage to the guided missile destroyer the USS Fitzgerald is berthed at its mother port in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo, on June 18, 2017. (Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images)
“Following the collision these sailors responded with urgency, determination, and creativity to save their ship,” it added.
The Navy’s final report on the crash blamed inadequate leadership and flawed teamwork for the crash. The report also said that poor seamanship by the crews of both ships led to the deadly disaster.
The ACX Crystal was three times as heavy as the USS Fitzgerald. The container ship punched a giant 13-by-17 foot gash near the destroyer’s keel.
In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) launches a missile from the aft missile deck during Multisail 17 on March 7, 2017 in the Philippine Sea. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William McCann/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)
In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer the USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) launches a missile from the aft missile deck during Multisail 17 on March 7, 2017, in the Philippine Sea. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William McCann/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)
According to the report, several sailors acted heroically as the crew fled a flooding compartment, which flooded completely in under 60 seconds.
After the initial chaos that sent TVs flying and crashing, the sailors lined up neatly in front of a ladder that led out of the flooding compartment. The seamen kept their composure even when they were up to their necks in water.
“Through their swift and in many cases heroic actions, members of the crew saved lives,” the Navy said.
This picture shows damages on the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald off the Shimoda coast after it collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship on June 17, 2017.(STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Damages on the guided missile destroyer the USS Fitzgerald off Shimoda coast after it collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship on June 17, 2017. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
There were 35 sailors in a compartment named Berthing 2. Of those, 28 escaped, and seven died.
The last sailor to be pulled from Berthing 2 was in the bathroom at the time of the crash. He was knocked on the floor. When the sailor tried to wade toward the only light he saw, floating lockers got in his way, pinning him at one point.
The USS Fitzgeral[d] switched to paper maps since its systems were knocked out by the crash. Due to the damage, the ship’s maximum speed was 5 knots. Divers recovered the bodies once the ship arrived in port.
http://thediplomat.com/2017/08/uss-fitz ... -released/
USS Fitzgerald Leadership Removed, Details of Collision Aftermath Released
Preliminary report reveals actions of sailors to escape, control flooding.
By Steven Stashwick
August 21, 2017
This week the Commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet concluded administrative proceedings on the leadership of the Japan-based destroyer USS Fitzgerald, as well as the conduct of the officers and sailors on watch when it collided with the merchant vessel ACX Crystal in June. At the same time, the U.S. Navy released a preliminary investigation into the collision’s aftermath, detailing the escape of 28 sailors from one of the Fitzgerald’s flooded berthing compartments where seven other sailors became trapped and drowned, and the efforts to repair damage enough to bring the ship back to port.
Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin relieved the Fitzgerald’s Captain, Executive Officer, and senior enlisted leader of their positions for a “loss of confidence” in their ability to lead. While none of the top leadership were present at control stations when the collision occurred, they were held accountable for the lack of watchstander preparedness that contributed to the failures of teamwork and seamanship by bridge team and Combat Information Center leading up to it. A dozen sailors and officers who were on watch when the collision occurred also faced administrative punishments, but these were not specified.
The Non-Judicial Punishment handed down by Admiral Aucoin was based on facts and details from the ongoing investigation into the collision, which has collected over 3000 pages of evidence thus far. According to the Seventh Fleet spokesperson:
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The collision was avoidable and both ships demonstrated poor seamanship. Within Fitzgerald, flawed watch stander teamwork and inadequate leadership contributed to the collision that claimed the lives of seven Fitzgerald Sailors, injured three more, and damaged both ships.
A larger Navy investigation being led by Rear Admiral Brian Fort is tasked with determining fault for the collision, and some of the disciplined sailors and officers may also face judicial proceedings in a court martial when it is completed.
Separately, the Navy released a 41-page investigation into the events following the collision. This investigation into damage control and rescue efforts was circumscribed from looking into the events leading up to the collision.
The report detailed the harrowing events in the Fitzgerald’s Berthing 2 compartment. The ACX Crystal’s bulbous bow pierced the Fitzgerald’s hull and opened the berthing compartment, where 35 sailors were sleeping, directly to the sea. There were no alarms or warning prior to the collision and sailors estimate that the compartment was flooded within 60 seconds. To escape, sailors had to wade through rapidly rising water in near-darkness except for emergency battle lighting and climb up a ladder and then pull themselves up through a two-foot diameter scuttle hatch to a landing one deck above. The last sailor to make it out had to free himself, already nearly underwater, from being pinned under lockers wrenched loose by the force of the collision. By the time he reached the scuttle the compartment had flooded completely and he began breathing in water when he was pulled out by sailors reaching into the onrushing water.
Waiting to save that last sailor meant that the rush of rising water through the scuttle prevented sailors from being able to seal it and contain the flooding. The berthing compartment above Berthing 2 also began to flood and sailors had to evacuate to the main deck above it and seal the two compartments from there. Seven sailors did not make it out of Berthing 2 and perished in the flooding.
Elsewhere, the ship’s Captain was trapped in his mangled cabin, which was ripped open by the ACX Crystal’s flared bow. Crew found him hanging from the side of the ship after battering down and prying back the door to his cabin, finally reaching him after clearing debris and crawling through torn superstructure, forced to use their belts as a makeshift harness to keep from falling overboard themselves.
According to the Navy’s timeline, power was lost in the forward half of the ship as flooding progressed, the radio room was damaged – the ship first alerted the Navy about the collision via a sailor’s personal cell phone – primary navigation sensors were lost, a major engineering space was flooded, and one of two main engine rooms lost power. Making three knots on one propeller shaft and with the assistance of tugs sent from Yokosuka, the Fitzgerald was moored back there seventeen hours after the collision, her bow sitting low in the water.
The Navy announced in August that the Fitzgerald will be removed to the United States for repairs on a heavy lift ship, just as the USS Cole was when it was struck by a terrorist bomb in Yemen. The repairs could be completed in Yokosuka, but the Fitzgerald’s damage is so extensive that it would tie up too much of the yard’s capacity, which must also service repairs to eleven other ships forward deployed to Japan.
Analysts estimate that the repairs could easily cost more than a half-billion dollars, more than twice what the repairs to the USS Cole cost, largely due to extensive damage to sensitive electronic combat systems equipment. The collision heavily damaged one of her SPY radar arrays, and may have twisted the superstructure they are mounted on. The SPY radar is the centerpiece of the destroyer’s AEGIS Weapon System that enables her air defense and ballistic missile defense missions, and must be precisely mounted and aligned.
This is the ruling in the Fitzgerald case: http://www.secnav.navy.mil/foia/reading ... gerald.pdf