The US guided-missile destroyer crashed into the Alnic MC tanker while underway east of Singapore, the US Navy 7th Fleet reports. The extent of the five sailors' injuries is not yet known.
The incident occurred at 5:24 a.m. local time as the ship was on its way to make a routine port visit in Singapore. The McCain has been damaged on its port side aft, or left rear, the Navy says. The latest US Navy update has the ship sailing under her own power toward port. The status of the tanker is unknown.
A search and rescue operation has been launched, combining the efforts of the Singapore Navy and US ships in the area. The Singapore Navy ship RSS Gallant, Singapore helicopters and the Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark are currently in the area to render assistance, the 7th fleet reports, and Osprey aircraft and Seahawk SH-60 helicopters from the amphibious assault ship USS America are also joining the response.
The incident will be investigated, the Navy has said. The Twitter feeds of the US Navy and the Pacific Fleet are displaying a phone number for the families of crew members to call for information.
The USS John McCain is an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer belonging to the US Navy's 7th Fleet, and is home ported at the US Navy base in Yokosuka, Japan. The Alnic MC is described as a Liberian-flagged, 30,000 ton, 183-meter oil and chemical tanker by the Marine Traffic website. It appears to have been on its way to Singapore from Pyeongtaek port in South Korea.
"Our first priority is determining the safety of the ship and crew," Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a Twitter statement.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 21, 2017
This accident comes only weeks after the June 17 collision of the USS Fitzgerald with the ACX Crystal container ship, in which seven of the Fitzgerald crew were killed and several others injured. A high level staff shakeup followed the crash.
The Straits of Malacca and Singapore are the world's busiest shipping lane and reached a new high of 83,740 transits in 2016, according to Seatrade Maritime News.