US Navy crash: Divers recover remains of missing sailors

Samuel Osborne
The guided-missile destroyer USS John S McCain moored pier side at Changi Naval Base, Singapore, following a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore: US Navy photo by Grady T Fontana via Getty Images

US Navy and Marine Corps divers have entered the flooded compartments of the USS John S McCain and found the remains of some of the 10 sailors missing since it collided with an oil tanker off the coast of Singapore.

The 7th fleet said divers will "access sealed compartments located in damaged parts of the ship" and "conduct damage assessments of the hull and flooded areas"

The McCain and the tanker Alnic MC collided yesterday in the fourth major accident in the US Pacific fleet this year, and the second in two months, leaving five sailors injured.

The collision tore a hole in the warship's waterline, flooding compartments including a crew sleeping area, the US Navy said.

It comes after the US Navy ordered an "operational pause" of its fleet across the world after the crash.

Admiral John Richardson, the US Chief of Naval Operations, said he was asking his fleet commanders worldwide for a one-to-two-day staggered "operational pause" to discuss action to ensure safe and effective operations, something he envisaged could begin within a week.

He said a comprehensive review would examine the training of US forces deployed to Japan "to make sure we are doing everything we can to make them ready for operations and warfighting."

This would include looking at "operational tempo, trends in personnel, materiel, maintenance and equipment."

The review would be conducted on "a very tight timeline" Admiral Richardson said, adding: "We need to get to the bottom of this."

There was no immediate explanation for the collision. Singapore, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, is one of the world's busiest ports and a US ally, with its naval base regularly visited by American warships.

Crash comes two months after USS Fitzgerald was caught in deadly collision (Reuters)

The USS John S McCain is named for the father and grandfather of US Republican Senator John McCain, who were both admirals. Mr McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is undergoing treatment for brain cancer.

"My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the sailors and families of the USS John McCain and USS Fitzgerald," he said in a statement, in which he called for an investigation that delivered full transparency and accountability.

Initially commenting "that's too bad," when questioned by reporters about the collision, US President Donald Trump tweeted to say his "thoughts and prayers" were with the sailors.