USS John S. McCain Collision Caused by Destroyer’s ‘Sudden Turn to Port’, Singapore Investigation Says

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March 8, 2018

Damage to the USS John S. McCain

ReutersSINGAPORE, March 8 (Reuters) – A U.S. guided missile destroyer’s deadly collision with an oil tanker near Singapore in 2017 was caused by “a sudden turn” made by the warship that put it in the path of the commercial vessel, said a report by the Singapore government on Thursday.

The collision on Aug. 21, which killed 10 sailors and was one of a handful of incidents in the Asia Pacific region involving U.S. Navy warships, raised questions about Navy training and led to the removal of a number of officers.

“The collision between the USS John S McCain (JSM) and Alnic MC (AM) as they were transiting through the Singapore Strait happened because of a sudden turn to Port by JSM, which caused it to head into the path of AM,” the report said.

The sudden turn was due to “a series of missteps” that took place at the control of the John S. McCain that unintentionally increased the rate of the vessel’s turn, the report by the Transport Safety Investigation Bureau said.

The 35-page report included an illustration of the collision recreated based on the John S. Mccain’s GPS data and shipboard electronic data on propulsion and steering. The report noted that the Alnic MC was transmitting AIS data while the John S. McCain was not. The images below show the JSM’s position relative to the Alnic MC and other vessels in the area. Since the John S. McCain was not transmitting AIS, the illustrations provide the first detailed look at the John S. McCain’s path leading up to the collision:

Related: AIS Animation Shows Alnic MC’s Track During Collision

The agency is the air and marine accident investigative arm of the Singapore government. It said its report “should not be used to assign blame or determine liability.”

The John S McCain’s sister ship, guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, almost sank off the coast of Japan in June last year after colliding with a Philippine container ship. The bodies of seven U.S. sailors were recovered after that incident.

The U.S. Navy subsequently announced a series of systemic reforms aimed at restoring basic naval skills and alertness at sea after a review of deadly ship collisions in the Asia-Pacific showed sailors were under-trained and over-worked.

Transport Safety Investigation Bureau Report: USS John S. McCain Collision with Alnic MC

See Also: U.S. Navy Report on ‘Preventable’ Fitzgerald and John S. McCain Collisions

(Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Michael Perry)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

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