Malaysian says unidentified body found in search for missing US Navy crew

Joseph Aucoin

"Aircraft from the amphibious assault ship USS America will continue search efforts today for 10 missing sailors assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56)", a statement said. But earlier Tuesday, Navy and Marine Corps divers were sent into the compartments in the damaged part of the destroyer that had been sealed to stop the ship from being flooded.

Ten US sailors are missing and five were injured in the collision, which resulted in significant damage to the hull of the US vessel and the flooding of some of its compartments. Divers had started assessing the warship's damaged hull, it said.

The Navy has enough assets to make up for the out-of-commision ships, Adm. Harry Harris, head of U.S. Pacific Command, told reporters gathered Tuesday at Osan Air Base, South Korea.

The McCain was heading to Singapore on a routine port visit after conducting a sensitive freedom-of-navigation operation near one of China's man-made islands in the South China Sea, according to the Navy.

The admiral did not rule out some kind of outside interference or a cyber-attack being behind the latest collision, but said he did not want to prejudge the inquiry.

In June, another guided-missile destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, collided with the Philippine-flagged merchant ship ACX Crystal 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.


It added that investigations into the cause of the Fitzgerald collision in June "shed some light on the way U.S. warships tend to sail without observing maritime traffic rules and the sloppiness of their crews". It has now recorded four major accidents this year, including the grounding of the cruiser USS Antietam on January 31 in Tokyo Bay and the May 9 collision of the San Diego-based cruiser USS Lake Champlain with a fishing boat off the Korean Peninsula.

There had been no indication of a cyberattack, Swift said, responding to speculation about the cause of two collisions in just over two months, but he added that every scenario will be reviewed.

China, Washington's main rival for influence in the Asia-Pacific, has seized on the collision of a USA destroyer to accuse the Navy of endangering maritime navigation in the region.

US Navy warships were involved in four major accidents this year, more than any other year since the turn of the century. "As such, I have directed an operational pause be taken in all of our fleets around the world". To its credit, the service moved quickly to discipline a dozen sailors, including the two top officers and the top enlisted sailor, even while the investigation of the incident continues.

Reports of the damage to the two ships seem to indicate that they were crossing paths or at least attempting to move in different directions at the time of the collision.

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