SINGAPORE: A collision between US Navy destroyer USS John S McCain (JSM) and an oil tanker in Singapore territorial waters on Aug 21 last year was due to a "sudden turn to the left" made by the warship.
This was the conclusion reached by the Ministry of Transport's (MOT) Transport Safety Investigation Bureau (TSIB) which released its findings on Thursday (Mar 8) following its safety investigation into the collision.
Ten US sailors died in the incident when the navy ship collided with merchant vessel Alnic MC (AM) east of Singapore at around 5.30am as it was heading to Singapore for a routine port call.
In its conclusions, TSIB said the collision between the two vessels occurred as they were "transiting through the Singapore Strait" when the warship made "a sudden turn to Port".
TSIB said the warship "made a sudden turn to the left into the path of AM because of a series of missteps that took place after propulsion controls were transferred."
It added that this led to "confusion as to which station had steering control, and an unintentional reduction of the Port engine throttle which increased the rate of JSM’s turn to Port".
"The investigation team noted that the US Navy and the operator of the Liberian-registered AM Stealth Maritime Corporation S.A. have initiated positive safety actions to prevent the recurrence of a similar incident," a TSIB spokesperson said in a statement.
It added that the US Navy is looking into re-introducing manoeuvring boards and putting crew through a Bridge Resource Management course.
"Stealth Maritime Corporation S.A. has also reviewed its Safety Management System to ensure prescribed requirements for safety of navigation and effective Bridge Resource Management are adhered to.
"TSIB’s safety investigation was conducted in accordance with the protocol set out by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Representatives from the Liberian Flag Administration and the United States Coast Guard, acting on behalf of the United States National Transportation Safety Board, participated in gathering evidence from the vessels and crew involved. The report will be shared with the IMO to prevent similar occurrences in the future," the statement said.
TSIB released a series of graphical representations of the position of Alnic MC in relation to the USS John McCain during the incident:
A US Navy report in November blamed the accident on a series of basic navigational errors, calling it “avoidable”. The resulting collision flooded one of the ship's berthings almost immediately, and only two of the 12 sailors in that space survived.