USS John S McCain collision: Singapore will spare no effort to find missing crew members, says MPA

USS John S McCain collision: Singapore will spare no effort to find missing crew members, says MPA

Search and rescue efforts for the 10 missing US Navy crew members in the collision between US warship USS John S McCain and an oil tanker will continue through the night, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said in a statement on Monday (Aug 21) evening.

SINGAPORE: Search and rescue efforts will continue through the night for the 10 US Navy crew members missing after the USS John S McCain an oil tanker collided in Singapore territorial waters, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said in a statement on Monday evening (Aug 21). 

"The Singapore authorities will spare no effort to try to find them, and render all possible assistance to our US friends," Mr Andrew Tan, chief executive of MPA said.

"Our thoughts are with the injured and families of the US Navy crew who are currently still missing following the incident in Singapore territorial waters."

Republic of Singapore Navy and Singapore Police Coast Guard vessels have been deployed for the overnight search, MPA said. 

About 250 personnel from various agencies have been deployed for the Singapore-led search and rescue operations, MPA said.

Detailing its efforts so far, MPA said it was notified of the collision at about 5.30am on Monday. The RSS Gallant as well as a Police Coast Guard vessel were nearby on patrol when the incident happened, and rendered assistance.

At 6.45am, MPA activated three tugboats and a team of divers and sent them to the scene.

After being notified by the US Navy that there were missing and injured crew members, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) immediately sent its first Super Puma helicopter to the scene at about 7.40am.

search and rescue for missing us navy crew members
Search and rescue operations on Monday evening led by Singapore's maritime authorities for the 10 missing US sailors in the collision between USS John S McCain and an oil tanker. (Photo: MPA)

MPA deployed its command vessel at 8am, and the RSS Resilience, as well as another coast guard patrol vessel arrived on the scene at about 9am. 

A frigate, the RSS Intrepid, as well as another Super Puma and a Chinook helicopter were also deployed subsequently, MPA said.

In total, the Singapore Armed Forces deployed a frigate, two patrol vessels, two Super Pumas and a Chinook helicopter, and the Police Coast Guard sent two patrol vessels. 

As of 6pm, five sorties have been carried out over the area, MPA said. 

The agency added that it has been issuing hourly navigational broadcasts to advise passing vessels of the incident, asking them to keep a lookout for any people in the water.  

US warship collision
US warship collision AFP/Laurence CHU

In a Facebook post on Monday evening, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan wrote: "Every SAR (search and rescue) is a heart-wrenching exercise," he wrote. "We hope for good news as we continue the search tonight." 


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 has also deployed its own assets to take part in ongoing search and rescue efforts, MPA said.

Following the collision, the USS America arrived at Changi Naval Base with US Navy MH-60S helicopters and MV-22 Ospreys to support search operations. 

The USS John S McCain is currently berthed at Changi Naval Base and the oil tanker, the Alnic MC is now at Singapore's eastern anchorage for inspections, MPA said. 

MPA is investigating the incident, it added. 

Source: CNA/dl