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The USS John S McCain, a guided missile destroyer, collided with an oil tanker sailing under a Liberian flag in the Strait of Singapore on Sunday afternoon local time. Ten sailors were reported missing by the U.S. Navy and four others were hospitalized for non-life-threatening injuries.
The incident took place on the first day of a joint drill of the U.S. Navy and its South Korean counterpart, aimed at sending a message to North Korea.
The destroyer was making a routine port stop in Singapore and the tanker was carrying about 12,000 tons of crude oil to Singapore from Taiwan. Its tonnage is 30,000, which is three times the tonnage of the destroyer, the BBC notes, and the two are of approximately equal length.
According to reports from the site, the warship sustained damage to her port side while the tanker, Alnic MC, took a hit near the front, 23 feet above the water line. No tanker crew were injured in the collision.
There has been no official report explaining the cause of the accident as of the time of writing. However, the Associated Press reported that the oil tanker, the Alnic MC, had been inspected in the Chinese port of Dongying in late July and four deficiencies had been noted at that time, including two navigation issues, one fire safety issue and a document deficiency.
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This is the second incident involving a U.S. Navy vessel in the last two months.
In mid-June, the USS Fitzgerald, the sister ship of the John S McCain, collided with a Philippine container ship and almost sunk. Seven sailors died in the incident.
Earlier this year, another guided missile destroyer, the USS Lake Champlain, collided with a South Korean fishing vessel. There were no casualties or injuries and the vessels sustained minor damage, according to reports.
The BBC reports that after the USS Fitzgerald collision, the U.S. Navy disciplined several officers. The two sister ships are part of the Seventh Fleet, the United State’s largest, and the two incidents are bound to raise questions, according to BBC’s correspondent in Singapore.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.