US says some remains of sailors found on USS John McCain
SINGAPORE (AP) — Navy divers searching a flooded compartment of the USS John S. McCain found remains of some of the 10 sailors missing in a collision between the warship and an oil tanker, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander said Tuesday as he promised a full investigation.
Adm. Scott Swift also said at a news conference in Singapore, where the McCain is now docked, that Malaysian officials had found one body, but it had yet to be identified and it was unknown whether it was a crew member.
The collision before dawn on Monday near Singapore tore a gaping hole in the McCain’s left rear hull and flooded adjacent compartments including crew berths and machinery and communication rooms. Five sailors were injured.
“The divers were able to locate some remains in those sealed compartments during their search today,” Swift said, adding that it was “premature to say how many and what the status of recovery of those bodies is.”
“We will continue the search and rescue operations until the probability of discovering sailors is exhausted,” Swift said.
He would not say where in the destroyer the bodies were found.
It was the second major collision in two months involving the Pacific-based 7th Fleet, and the Navy has ordered a broad investigation into its performance and readiness. Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided in waters off Japan. There were two lesser-known incidents in the first half of the year. In January, the USS Antietam guided missile cruiser ran aground near Yokosuka base, the home port of the 7th Fleet, and in May another cruiser, the USS Lake Champlain from the Navy’s 3rd Fleet, had a minor collision with a South Korean fishing boat.
“While each of these four incidents is unique, they cannot be viewed in isolation,” Swift said.
He said the Navy would conduct an investigation “to find out if there is a common cause ... and if so, how do we solve that.”
He said he had heard some reports speculating that the Navy could have been a victim of a cyberattack. “We’ve seen no indications of that as yet, but ... we are not taking any consideration off the table,” he said.
Earlier Tuesday, the 7th Fleet said the sea search by aircraft and ships from the U.S., Singapore and Malaysian navies would continue east of Singapore where the McCain and the tanker collided.
Megan Partlow of Ohio, who said her fiance was on board the McCain, told The Associated Press in a Facebook message that they last communicated on Sunday and she was losing hope of seeing him again.
“My last text to him was ‘be safe,’ which is the same way we end every conversation. I’m just ready for answers,” she said. The identities of the missing have not been disclosed but Partlow said her fiance’s parents were in touch with the Navy’s family assistance center.