CNN Reports USS John S. McCain Lost Steering Prior to Collision

USS John S McCain arrives in singapore
Tugboats from Singapore assist the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) at it steers towards Changi Naval Base, Republic of Singapore following a collision with the merchant tanker, August 21, 2017. U.S. Navy Photo

The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain may have suffered a loss of steering prior to its collision with a merchant tanker near Singapore on Monday, a U.S. Navy official told CNN.

The USS John S. McCain was transiting to Singapore for a routine port visit when it collided with the Liberian-flagged tanker Alnic MC at approximately 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time on Aug. 21 while east of the Straits of Malacca. The Navy said Tuesday that some of the remains of the ten missing sailors have been located inside the ship as an international search continues near the site of the collision.

Citing a U.S. Navy official, CNN reported late Monday that John S. McCain had suffered a “steering failure” prior to the collision. Earlier in the day CNN reported that “there were indications the destroyer experienced a loss of steering right before the collision, but steering had been regained afterward,” according to a second Navy source.

After the collision, McCain arrived at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base Monday afternoon under its own power.

The collision involving the McCain is the fourth major accident in the U.S. Pacific fleet this year. In June, seven sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a containership off the coast of Japan.

In wake of the accidents, the U.S. Navy on Monday called for a fleet-wide probe and a rare “operational pause” of its fleets around the world, which will allow fleet commanders to assess and review with their commands the fundamental practice to safe and effective operations.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson said the pause is likely to “one to two days”.

“This is obviously an extremely serious incident and is the second such incident in a very short period of time, within inside of three months and very similar as well and is the last of a series of incidents in the Pacific fleet in particular,” Admiral Richardson said.

On Tuesday, Admiral Richardson downplayed reports that the ship may have been hacked.

“2 clarify Re: possibility of cyber intrusion or sabotage, no indications right now…but review will consider all possibilities,” Admiral Richardson wrote on Twitter.

In addition to the operational pause, Richardson said he tasked Navy Adm. Phil Davidson, the commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, to take charge of a comprehensive review to find the contributing factors and root causes of the incidents. The review will include representation from throughout the Navy, as well as from other services and the private sector.

The Navy said the review will look at the processes the Navy uses to train and certify the forward deployed forces in Japan. Another area for examination, as Richardson outlined, is how the Navy trains and certifies its surface warfare community, including tactical and navigational proficiency.

“My hope is that we will learn, continue to improve in the short term, validating that we are sound on the fundamentals and if not then we’ll take action to correct that, and then look at broader, more systemic issues that we may find through this comprehensive review,” Richardson said.

The comprehensive review is in addition to the investigations into the Fitzgerald and McCain, he added.