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Destroyer John S. McCain's Sudden Turn Caused Deadly Collision: Report
A sudden lurch left by the guided-missile destroyer John S. McCain shortly before dawn on Aug. 21 put it on a collision course with a commercial oil tanker and caused the deaths of 10 American sailors, an official Singapore investigation determined.
A final report released Thursday by Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau echoed a U.S. Navy study, concluding that “a series of missteps” by inexperienced and possibly poorly trained sailors aboard the McCain during a botched transfer of propulsion controls put it in the path of the Liberian-flagged Alnic MC.
The bridge team of the Alnic MC had spotted the destroyer turning but assumed it would safely pass their vessel, a calculation proved wrong three minutes later when they crashed a little more than five miles from the entrance to the Singapore Strait.
Although the McCain’s movement caused the mishap, Singapore investigators also ruled that “the actions taken by Alnic MC were insufficient to avoid the collision.”
Around 5 a.m. on the morning of the crash, the Alnic MC’s skipper overheard Singapore pilots radioing an American warship but it had not been sighted by his crew or picked up on the tanker’s radar.
The Strait is one of the world’s busiest waterways, so it wasn’t unusual that the Alnic MC’s crew first saw a Chinese asphalt tanker about a half-mile away overtaking their slow vessel from their right, plus a British-flagged container ship approaching from their left.
The other ship they finally spotted was the McCain, closing fast from their right. The Philippine skipper began to radio the destroyer in English but drew no response. It seemed to be taking an acute and fast angle to pass his merchant vessel.
“Good crossing action, in the middle of a channel?” he was recorded saying sarcastically in Tagalog.
To let the McCain by, he ordered his vessel to slow to half-engines but slightly more than a minute later the Alnic MC’s bow hit the left side of the McCain. It speared through the warship’s steel bulkhead, flooding seawater into the berthing quarters where the 10 sailors drowned.
Singapore investigators determined that the McCain’s crew never made any light or sound signals to attract the Alnic MC’s attention and the warship’s data recorder never acquired the commercial vessel as a target.
Investigators faulted the McCain for a “lack of experienced personnel handling critical equipment like steering and propulsion,” which to them also suggested a lack of proper risk assessment by the ship’s leaders for transiting the bustling Strait.
“While there was no evidence of a panic on the bridge of (McCain), it is likely that there was a lack of a comprehensive situational awareness amongst the team on what was to come,” the report stated.
The McCain collision capped nearly eight months of mishaps involving American warships. They included the June 17 crash of the sister destroyer Fitzgerald with the commercial vessel ACX Crystal in the Philippine Sea that killed seven American sailors.
Those collisions had been preceded by a Jan. 31 accident in which the cruiser Antietam ran aground on rocks lining the Japanese coast. Less than five months later, the San Diego-based cruiser Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing boat, but those incidents weren’t fatal.
In the wake of the McCain crash, the chief of naval operations, Adm. John Richardson, vowed to reform the surface warfare fleet, triggering deep changes designed to hike the amount of sleep sailors receive, revamp their schooling and credentialing and ensure no ship leaves port with a poorly trained crew.
©2018 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
The FBI is treating the recent shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, as a terrorist attack, several media outlets reported on Sunday.
"We work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism," USA Today quoted FBI Agent Rachel Rojas as saying at a news conference.
WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un risks losing "everything" if he resumes hostility and his country must denuclearize, after the North said it had carried out a "successful test of great significance."
"Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way. He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore," Trump said on Twitter, referring to his first summit with Kim in Singapore in 2018.
"He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November," he said.
The three sailors whose lives were cut short by a gunman at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, on Friday "showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil," said base commander Navy Capt. Tim Kinsella.
Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters were killed in the shooting, the Navy has announced.
The Pentagon’s troop deployment denials means nothing when the White House screams ‘fake news’ all the time
The Pentagon has a credibility problem that is the result of the White House's scorched earth policy against any criticism. As a result, all statements from senior leaders are suspect.
We're beyond the point of defense officials being unable to say for certain whether a dog is a good boy or girl. Now we're at the point where the Pentagon has spent three days trying to knock down a Wall Street Journal story about possible deployments to the Middle East, and they've failed to persuade either the press or Congress.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the United States was considering deploying up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to thwart any potential Iranian attacks. The story made clear that President Trump could ultimately decide to send a smaller number of service members, but defense officials have become fixated on the number 14,000 as if it were the only option on the table.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. – Gen. David Berger, the US Marine Corps commandant, suggested the concerns surrounding a service members' use of questionable Chinese-owned apps like TikTok should be directed against the military's leadership, rather than the individual troops.
Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, on Saturday morning, Berger said the younger generation of troops had a "clearer view" of the technology "than most people give them credit for."
"That said, I'd give us a 'C-minus' or a 'D' in educating the force on the threat of even technology," Berger said. "Because they view it as two pieces of gear, 'I don't see what the big deal is.'"