US Navy ship and oil tanker collide near Singapore

US Navy ship and oil tanker collide near Singapore

A US Navy warship has collided with an oil tanker off the coast of Singapore, and a search party has been deployed to retrieve as many as 10 sailors following the accident.

Shortly before 5:30am local time, the guided-missile destroyer the USS John McCain collided with the Alnic MC, a merchant vessel said to be around three times bigger than the warship. The ship was said to have temporarily lost navigational capabilities, an occurrence said to have led directly to the collision.

They were travelling in waters east of the Malacca Strait, a body of water between Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia that has been identified by the World Economic Forum as the planet's second-busiest waterway, and were preparing to port when the collision occurred.

Although nobody has been killed, as many as five sailors have been injured in the collision. Four of them were airlifted to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, while a fifth required no further treatment. An unnamed crew member of the Alnic MC also said that nobody was injured, nor did any oil spill aboard the oil tanker.

"There is no oil spill. We were carrying fuel oil from Taiwan to discharge to Singapore ... We are proceeding to Raffles Reserved Anchorage where the owners will investigate the matter. There was some damage to the valve."

According to a statement from the US Navy, the USS John McCain is now stationed at the Changi Naval Base in Singapore. It was reportedly able to sail by its own power.

Location of Alnic MC Credit: CNN

Although they say that "damage control efforts by the crew halted further flooding", the warship is reportedly recovering from "significant damage to the hull", resulting in the machinery, communications and crew berthing rooms being flooded.

"In addition to tug boats out of Singapore, the Republic of Singapore Navy ship RSS Gallant, RSN helicopters and Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark are currently in the area to render assistance."

In a statement posted on Facebook, Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen confirmed the collision, adding that the crash did indeed take place in Singapore waters.

"U.S. Navy destroyer, USS John S McCain, collided with a commercial ship in Singapore territorial waters this morning. The SAF [Singaporean Air Force] has been mobilised as part of a multi-agency search and rescue effort, led by Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore - MPA, and responded to USN’s request for Republic of Singapore Navy’s assistance at 0532hrs with RSS Gallant onsite."

The warship's namesake, Senator John McCain, has also released a statement on Twitter offering his condolences to the sailors involved in the collision.

The USS John McCain was on its way back to Singapore after conducting "routine patrols" in the South China Sea when the collision occurred.

According to the Navy, the USS John McCain was commissioned in 1994 and reportedly carries a crew of 23 officers, 24 chief petty officers and 291 enlisted sailors. In the meantime, the US Navy has set up a helpline and assistance centre for loved of the crew. Any concerned family members can  call 011-81-46-816-1728 (international) or 243-1728 (DSN on base) if they require more information about the incident.