The McCain Collision Was The 7th Fleet's Fourth Major Mishap Of 2017

news
Guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) moored pier side at Changi Naval Base, Republic of Singapore following a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21.
Photo via DoD

The Navy has launched what a defense official characterized as a “broad investigation” into the Japan-based 7th Fleet’s performance following the collisions of two Arleigh-Burke class guided missile destroyers with commercial vessels the last two months, the Associated Press reports.


Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson ordered a pause in global operations in the wake of the collision, according to USA Today, reportedly directing U.S. Fleet Forces Command chief Adm. Phil Davidson to lead an investigation to “ensure there aren’t bigger problems that may be masked by the high pace of ship operations in the Pacific region,” the anonymous defense official told the Associated Press.

News of the investigation came less than 24 hours after the USS John S. McCain collided with the merchant vessel Alnic MC, a Liberian-flagged oil and chemical tanker, in the waters east of the Strait of Malacca while both vessels were en route to Singapore on the morning of Aug. 21.

Ten sailors were reported missing and five injured amid significant flooding to the destroyer’s crew berthings and communications equipment. The Navy immediately launched search and rescue efforts in conjunction with Singaporean naval and coast guard vessels shortly after the collision occurred at 6:24 a.m. local time.

Damage to the port side is visible as the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) steers towards Changi Naval Base, Republic of Singapore on Aug. 21, 2017.Photo via DoD

The McCain collision occurred two months after the USS Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal on June 17, resulting in massive damage to the destroyer's starboard side below the waterline. Seven sailors were killed during the incident.

On Aug. 17, just days before the McCain collision, 7th Fleet it announced it had relieved the Fitzgerald’s commanding officer for his “absolute accountability” and the vessel’s executive officer and command master chief for contributing “to the lack of watchstander preparedness and readiness that was evident in the events leading up to the collision.”

The McCain and Fitzgerald incidents mark the fourth major mishap for a Navy vessel in the Pacific this year alone. On January 31, the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Antietam ran aground in Tokyo Bay after being tossed from its anchorage by wind and tides. And on May 9, the Ticonderoga-class USS Lake Champlain sustained minor damage after a South Korean fishing boat ran into the cruiser’s port side.

The four incidents all came amid the Trump administration’s increasingly aggressive posture towards North Korea, a response to Pyongyang’s rapidly accelerating nuclear program. In February, the USS Carl Vinson-led Carrier Strike Group 1 (including the Champlain) conducted “routine operations” in the South China Sea, before steaming to the Korean Peninsula in April to join the USS Ronald Reagan-led Carrier Strike Group 5 for an unprecedented show of force against the North. CGS-5’s fleet included the McCain and the Fitzgerald; had it not been grounded, the Antietam likely would have joined, too. On Aug. 10, weeks before its collision, the McCain had conducted a “freedom of navigation operation” near Chinese-made artificial islands near the Philippines.

With Navy vessels flooding the western Pacific and South China Sea, it appears that Richardson’s concerns over the “high pace of ship operations” are far from unfounded.  As one global security expert told the Washington Post in the aftermath of the McCain collision, the Navy  was "already stretched after the Fitzgerald collision, and now they’ve lost a second frontline destroyer at an acute time in the region."

Navy and Pentagon public affairs officials did not immediately respond to request for comment from Task & Purpose.

WATCH NEXT:

President Donald Trump speaks during an event with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Pratt Industries, Sunday, Sept 22, 2019, in Wapakoneta, Ohio. (Associated Press/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he discussed Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son in a call with Ukraine's president.

Trump's statement to reporters about his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky came as the Democratic leader of a key congressional panel said the pursuit of Trump's impeachment may be the "only remedy" to the situation.

Read More Show Less
"It's kind of like the equivalent of dropping a soda can into canyon and putting on a blindfold and going and finding it, because you can't just look down and see it," diver Jeff Goodreau said of finding the wreck.

The USS Eagle 56 was only five miles off the coast of Maine when it exploded.

The World War I-era patrol boat split in half, then slipped beneath the surface of the North Atlantic. The Eagle 56 had been carrying a crew of 62. Rescuers pulled 13 survivors from the water that day. It was April 23, 1945, just two weeks before the surrender of Nazi Germany.

The U.S. Navy classified the disaster as an accident, attributing the sinking to a blast in the boiler room. In 2001, that ruling was changed to reflect the sinking as a deliberate act of war, perpetuated by German submarine U-853, a u-boat belonging to Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine.

Still, despite the Navy's effort to clarify the circumstances surrounding the sinking, the Eagle 56 lingered as a mystery. The ship had sunk relatively close to shore, but efforts to locate the wreck were futile for decades. No one could find the Eagle 56, a small patrol ship that had come so close to making it back home.

Then, a group of friends and amateur divers decided to try to find the wreck in 2014. After years of fruitless dives and intensive research, New England-based Nomad Exploration Team successfully located the Eagle 56 in June 2018.

Business Insider spoke to two crew members — meat truck driver Jeff Goodreau and Massachusetts Department of Corrections officer Donald Ferrara — about their discovery.

Read More Show Less
(CIA photo)

Before the 5th Special Forces Group's Operational Detachment Alpha 595, before 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment's MH-47E Chinooks, and before the Air Force combat controllers, there were a handful of CIA officers and a buttload of cash.

Read More Show Less

The last time the world saw Marine veteran Austin Tice, he had been taken prisoner by armed men. It was unclear whether his captors were jihadists or allies of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad who were disguised as Islamic radicals.

Blindfolded and nearly out of breath, Tice spoke in Arabic before breaking into English:"Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus."

That was from a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 26, 2012, several weeks after Tice went missing near Damascus, Syria, while working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy and the Washington Post.

Now that Tice has been held in captivity for more than seven years, reporters who have regular access to President Donald Trump need to start asking him how he is going to bring Tice home.

Read More Show Less

"Shoots like a carbine, holsters like a pistol." That's the pitch behind the new Flux Defense system designed to transform the Army's brand new sidearm into a personal defense weapon.

Read More Show Less