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Divers Find Remains in Search of U.S. Navy Ship Damaged in Collision

The collision was the second in two months involving a destroyer from the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, which is based in Yokosuka, Japan.

In June, the destroyer Fitzgerald collided with a cargo ship off Japan. Soon afterward, searchers found the bodies of seven missing sailors in its flooded berthing compartments.

After the collision on Monday, Adm. John Richardson, the Navy’s top officer, announced that all 277 Navy ships worldwide would take an “operational pause” for one or days to review basic seamanship, teamwork and other “fundamentals.”

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters that an inquiry into the collision had already begun. “We obviously have an investigation underway and that will determine what happened,” he said.

At his news conference Tuesday, Admiral Swift discounted suggestions that the crew of the McCain had been overworked or underprepared. He said the crew responded quickly after the collision, righted the ship and prevented an even bigger disaster.

“I was on the McCain this morning and looking at the eyes of those sailors, and even after their heroic efforts yesterday I didn’t see exhaustion,” he said. “I didn’t see a crew that was taking a knee, so to speak. They are on their game.”

The admiral said there were no signs of failure in the ship’s steering system or of a cyberattack, two possibilities that have been mentioned in news reports. But he noted that the investigation was in its earliest stages and said, “We are not taking any consideration off the table.”

The destroyer is named after John S. McCain Sr. and John S. McCain Jr., Navy admirals who were the grandfather and father of Senator John McCain of Arizona.

In Washington, Senator McCain, who is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released a statement endorsing the operational pause.

“I agree with Admiral Richardson that more forceful action is urgently needed to identify and correct the causes of the recent ship collisions,” he said. “Our sailors who risk their lives every day, in combat and in training, deserve no less.”

The collision between the John S. McCain and the Alnic MC, a Liberian-registered tanker about three times its size, occurred east of Singapore.

Andrew Tan, the chief executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, said that about 250 people from various Singapore agencies were involved in the search.

“This incident took place in Singapore waters and M.P.A. continues to lead the search and rescue efforts,” Mr. Tan told reporters on Tuesday. “So everyone is working closely together to make sure that we spare no effort in terms of searching for the unaccounted for.”

But in Malaysia, Zulkifli Abu Bakar, the director general of the Maritime Enforcement Agency, said the collision had occurred in his country’s waters, at the highly congested entrance to the Singapore and Malacca Straits. He said 80,000 ships a year pass through the area.

“It is in our waters, so we are leading the S.A.R. operations,” he said Monday, using an abbreviation for search and rescue.

He said any territorial dispute was secondary to the search effort. “We do not want to have another collision,” he said. “For the time being, I don’t think we should argue about whose waters, because I think the most important thing is to focus on the search and rescue effort.”

Source: NYT > World

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