SINGAPORE — Divers have recovered the remains of all 10 United States sailors who went missing after their warship collided with a tanker off Singapore, the US Navy said on Monday (Aug 28).
The remaining eight sailors were retrieved by divers searching the flooded compartments of the USS John S McCain after the discovery of two bodies was announced last week.
The US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, to which the warship belonged, said in a statement on its website that “the US Navy and Marine Corps divers have now recovered the remains of all 10 USS John S McCain sailors”. The sailors were aged between 20 and 39.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen wrote: “In this tragic incident, we take some comfort that the bodies of all 10 sailors who passed away on USS John S McCain were recovered.
“We hope and pray that this final closure will help their bereaved families through this difficult period. May their souls rest in peace.”
At least 20 divers from the US Navy and the Marine Corps were involved in the recovery effort, and used hydraulic cutters and other equipment to gain access to the compartments where the men died.
They were able to reach the area by entering the ship through the hole in its port side, which was created by the collision.
The remains of the missing sailors were found inside sealed sections of the damaged hull of the warship, which is moored at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base.
“The incident is under investigation to determine the facts and circumstances of the collision,” the statement added.
Monday's news follows the US Navy’s announcement last Thursday that it had suspended wider search and rescue operations after finding and identifying the remains of one sailor.
The USS John S McCain was on its way to Singapore for a routine visit when it collided with the Alnic MC, a chemical and oil tanker about three times the size of the guided-missile destroyer.
The collision occurred as the McCain was preparing to enter the Singapore Strait, one of the world’s most congested waterways.
It was the second such deadly accident in two months after a US destroyer collided with a cargo ship off Japan in June, and the fourth accident involving an American warship in the Pacific this year.
In the June incident, another US Navy destroyer, the Fitzgerald, collided with a cargo ship near Japan. Seven sailors initially went missing in that collision before their bodies were later found in the flooded berthing compartments of the Fitzgerald.
The latest collision sparked a multinational search and rescue operation off Singapore but it was called off after several days, and the authorities shifted their focus to flooded parts of the ship. After the McCain incident, the navy removed the commander of the Seventh Fleet, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, saying it had lost confidence in his leadership.
Rear Adm Phil Sawyer takes command of the fleet from Vice Adm Aucoin, who was due to step down next month. The navy has also planned temporary and staggered halts in operations across its global fleet to allow staff to focus on safety. AGENCIES
The 10 fallen sailors are:
- Electronics Technician 1st Class Charles Nathan Findley, 31, from Amazonia, Missouri
- Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Abraham Lopez, 39, from El Paso, Texas
- Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, from Gaithersburg, Maryland
- Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jacob Daniel Drake, 21, from Cable, Ohio
- Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23, from Manchester, Maryland
- Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Corey George Ingram, 28, from Poughkeepsie, New York
- Electronics Technician 3rd Class Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, from Suffield, Connecticut
- Electronics Technician 3rd Class John Henry Hoagland III, 20, from Killeen, Texas
- Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Logan Stephen Palmer, 23, from Decatur, Illinois
- Electronics Technician 3rd Class, Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, from Cherry Hill, New Jersey.