USS John S McCain collision: Search area for missing sailors expanded, MPA says

USS John S McCain collision: Search area for missing sailors expanded, MPA says

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The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore is coordinating the ongoing search and rescue operation with the Malaysian and Indonesian authorities. (File photo: MPA)

SINGAPORE: The search area covered by Singapore-led search efforts for the 10 missing US sailors in the collision between USS John S McCain and an oil tanker has been expanded from the initial 128 square kilometres to cover 2,620 square kilometres, the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) announced on Tuesday (Aug 22).

Search efforts are being coordinated with the US, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia, MPA said in a statement. Singapore on Tuesday accepted Malaysia's offer to send four aircraft to join the expanded search area, including along Malaysia's coast line. 

The Singapore and US are covering the centre of the identified search area, while Malaysian and Indonesian assets are covering the north and south of it, MPA added. 

search area for missing in john s mccain collision
The search area for the missing USS John S McCain sailors has been expanded to 2,620 sq km. (Map: MPA) 

The agency said search and rescue efforts on Tuesday included the deployment of two Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) patrol vessels - RSS Gallant and RSS Fearless. The Singapore Police Coast Guard (PCG) also deployed two vessels. 

To cover a wider search area, MPA said the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) deployed a Fokker 50 and a C-130. It also had a Super Puma on standby. MPA also has a craft on the scene, it said. 

The authority added that Indonesia has increased its deployment to two aircraft and three vessels. Australia has offered Singapore fixed wing assets to join the search, while the US Navy also deployed assets from USS America

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Photo of the USS John S McCain berthed at Changi Naval Base. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

So far, the SAF has deployed a total of three patrol vessels, three fast craft, a frigate, two Super Pumas, a Chinook, a C-130 and a Fokker 50 while the PCG deployed four patrol craft. MPA deployed two craft, three tugboats and a team of divers. 

Additionally, MPA has been issuing hourly navigational broadcasts to advise passing vessels of the incident and to request them to keep a lookout for any persons in the water, it said. 

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday evening, US Navy commander Admiral Scott Swift said divers had found remains on board the USS John S McCain's sealed compartments, but added that it is premature to know how many bodies were discovered. 

The USS John S McCain remains berthed at Changi Naval Base.

Source: CNA/hm