Ray Mabus’ Legacy – Ten US sailors missing after destroyer USS John S McCain collides with oil tanker

The Guardian

A rescue mission is underway off Singapore in an incident which follows the fatal collision between USS Fitzgerald and merchant ship in June

Ten American sailors are missing and five injured after the guided-missile destroyer USS John S McCain was damaged in a collision with an oil tanker off the coast of Singapore.

The US navy said the warship had “sustained damage to her port side aft” in the collision with the Alnic MC east of the straits of Malacca and Singapore.

“There are currently 10 sailors missing and five injured,” the navy said in a statement posted on the website of the commander of the US Pacific fleet.

“Search and rescue efforts” were underway in coordination with local authorities after the incident at 5.24am local time on Monday.

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One comment on “Ray Mabus’ Legacy – Ten US sailors missing after destroyer USS John S McCain collides with oil tanker
  1. The Malaysian Maritime Traffic Separation Scheme video is available online. Typical surging, heavy traffic inbound to Singapore. Did notice several commercial ships overtaking the tanker on her starboard side, including MV Team Oslo; although vessels are normally required to overtake on the slower vessel’s port beam, you often see the smaller ships overtake to starboard, and skirt down the outer edge of the TSS. The ship that is being passed is considered to be the burdened vessel and is expected to maintain course and speed until the passing is complete.

    You can see the MC Alnik suddenly alter course to port using a large rudder order and stop shortly thereafter; although the JS McCAIN is not identified on the commercial shipping plot, this appears to be the collision location. The Alnik resumes a bell order a short time after and moves north out of the channel.

    For the MC Alnik to have struck the JSMcCAIN on her port quarter, it seems most likely that the destroyer had been crossing from the outer edge of the TSS in towards the center, I cannot imagine the circumstance under which the Officer of the Deck or the bridge team would have thought this to be a sound decision, unless some of the passing traffic such as Team Oslo placed them in extermis; to see a massive tanker coming at you while looking aft from the port bridge wing and decide it was your best bet to scoot ahead of them is visually terrifying, and simply contrary to fundamental ship handling and sheer human nature. Still, I cannot come up with a better answer as to how she took an impact on her port quarter while the Alnik had a large port rudder order and was slowing.

    The Malacca is a difficult transit at any time of day on every single day. There are hundreds of smaller boats, pans, bonka fishers, etc., literally making up their own rules, and few will show up on the MMA video or on the destroyer’s sensors either. Given the early AM hour and that there can often be a very nasty haze that limits visibility, the presence of these smaller boats may have been an initial domino, although the Team Oslo looked to be moving at 16+ knots and passing Alnik to her starboard could very well have placed her in close quarters to JSMcCAIN. Still, to issue conning commands to pass ahead of Alnik’s bow should have been a No Go under nearly every conceivable scenario, and from my armchair, strikes me as a very serious blunder.

    Godspeed to ship and crew.

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