SINGAPORE: Search efforts for 10 missing US sailors continued more than 24 hours after the US Navy destroyer USS John S McCain and an oil tanker collided in Singapore territorial waters on early Monday morning (Aug 21).
Singapore's Maritime Port Authority (MPA) chief executive Andrew Tan told reporters on Tuesday that MPA continued to lead search and rescue efforts and had deployed more aircraft and vessels for the operation.
"We have two RSN patrol vessels on the scene right now, we have RSAF dispatching their aircraft. I understand that the US will also be deploying more of their assets," he said.
"So everyone is working closely together to make sure that we spare no effort in terms of searching for the unaccounted for."
Aircraft from the amphibious assault ship USS America are searching an area east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet said in a statement on Tuesday.
The collision between the McCain and the merchant vessel Alnic MC happened while the US warship was transiting to Singapore for a routine port call. Five US sailors were injured - four were evacuated by helicopter to the Singapore General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, while the fifth did not need further treatment.
The McCain is currently berthed at Changi Naval Base and the Alnic is now at Singapore's eastern anchorage for inspections, according to Singapore authorities.
The collision tore a hole in the McCain’s waterline, flooding crew berths and machinery and communications rooms. But the crew was able to stop the flooding, and the ship reached Singapore's Changi Naval Base under its own power.
Damage control efforts on board are focused on "dewatering the ship and restoring auxiliary system", the US Navy statement said.
An updated statement on Tuesday said divers have begun searching in the flooded compartments of the ship. They will also conduct damage assessment of the hull and flooded areas, it added.
USS America, which is currently moored across the pier from the McCain, is providing messing and berthing services to crew members and supporting damage control efforts, the statement added.
The Alnic, a 183-metre long Liberian-flagged oil tanker, sustained damage to its forepeak tank 7m above the waterline, according to MPA. No crew members were injured and there were no reports of oil pollution.
In its statement, the US Navy acknowledged search and rescue efforts by ships and aircraft from Singapore as well as Malaysia.
About 250 personnel from various agencies have been deployed for the Singapore-led search, MPA said.
MPA added that Singapore has accepted an offer of assistance from Indonesian authorities in search and rescue efforts. Indonesia has deployed a helicopter to search the northern coast line of Bintan island, it said.
The US Navy announced on Monday a fleet-wide probe and plans for temporary halts in operations to focus on safety.
The collision was the second involving a ship from the US Navy's Seventh Fleet in the Pacific in two months.