Four days after the USS John S. McCain collided with a commercial oil tanker off the coast of Singapore, the U.S. Navy announced that it has suspended its search-and-rescue operations for the nine sailors that remain missing, according to a statement released on Thursday.
On Wednesday, it was announced that Navy divers had found the remains of one sailor, electronics technician 3rd class Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, from New Jersey, inside the flooded compartments of the damaged ship. Another body recovered by the Royal Malaysian Navy was later determined not to be any of the nine missing sailors. The body was found in the same area of the sea where the collision occurred, but a subsequent medical examination proved it was not the body of an American sailor.
Navy divers are expected to continue recovery efforts within the damaged and flooded compartments of the USS John S. McCain, despite the suspension of the overall search and rescue efforts out at sea.
The collision between the Arleigh-Burke class destroyer and the Alnic MC, a 600-foot, Liberian-flagged oil and chemical tanker, occurred early Monday morning and resulted in damage that extended below the waterline of the McCain. Flooding inside the crew compartments was eventually brought under control, and the ship traveled on to Singapore’s Changi Naval Base via a combination of its own power, and eventually, being towed. The Alnic MC was also towed to a nearby port for inspection.
Four injured sailors were airlifted from the McCain for treatment, but were returned to the ship for duty on Wednesday.
In the aftermath of the collision, the entirety of the U.S. Navy’s 277 ship fleet conducted a one day operational pause intended to help apply increased focus on proper seamanship and safety, and the commander of the U.S.’ 7th Fleet, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, was relieved from duty citing a loss of confidence in his ability to command. The McCain’s collision marked the fourth such incident in the Pacific since January, including another collision between an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, and a commercial ship that cost the lives of seven sailors and saw the ship’s command relieved from duty.
As the Navy begins the process of recovering our fallen sailors, our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and friends. We are grateful for the rescue and recovery efforts of the officers and crew of the USS John S. McCain, the Malaysian Coast Guard, Royal Malaysian Navy, and Republic of Singapore Navy. The Department of Defense will conduct a thorough and complete investigation of the incident.” A White House press release stated.
The U.S. Navy is investigating the circumstances surrounding the McCain’s collision, and intends to release its findings as they develop.
The nine sailors who remain missing after the tragic incident are:
– Electronics Technician 1st Class Charles Nathan Findley, 31, from Kansas City, Missouri
– Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Abraham Lopez, 39, from Texas
– Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, from Maryland
– Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jacob Daniel Drake, 21, from Ohio
– Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23, from Maryland
– Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Corey George Ingram, 28, from New York
– Electronics Technician 3rd Class Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, from Connecticut
– Electronics Technician 3rd Class John Henry Hoagland III, 20, from Texas
– Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Logan Stephen Palmer, 23, from Illinois
Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy