SINGAPORE — American guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain has left Changi Naval Base (CNB) on Thursday (Oct 5), where it has been moored since a deadly collision in August.
In a statement, the United States Seventh Fleet said that the vessel will be towed to deep water, where it will meet the heavy lift transport vessel MV Treasure.
MV Treasure will then lower itself beneath the USS John S. McCain, secure the ship on a platform and raise it out of the water.
The damaged vessel will subsequently be transported to its homeport in Yokosuka, Japan for repairs.
“In the weeks prior to departure from Singapore, crew members, technicians and divers prepared the ship for the journey by conducting damage assessments and placing key systems in layup maintenance,” said the statement.
“A patch was also installed over damaged sections of the hull to restore watertight integrity,” it added.
A temporary patch has been welded to the collision site aboard USS John S. McCain. Photo: US SEVENTH FLEET
The decision to repair the vessel in Yokosuka was made after damage assessments revealed it would be faster and cheaper than sending it back to America, said the US Navy. The decision also allows sailors to stay with their families during the repairs.
While repairs are being carried out, McCain sailors will conduct training needed to prepare the ship to resume operations, Navy officials said.
The destroyer was involved in a collision with merchant vessel Alnic MC in Singapore territorial waters on Aug 21. Ten sailors died in the collision.
An investigation is underway to determine the facts and circumstances of the collision.
The Singapore Transport Safety Investigation Bureau (TSIB), which is Singapore’s air and marine accidents and incidents investigation authority under the Ministry of Transport, has launched a marine safety investigation following the collision between the vessels.
The findings will be published once the investigation is completed, said the TSIB in an earlier update.
The McCain collision was the second such deadly accident in two months after a US destroyer collided with a cargo ship in June, and the fourth accident involving an American warship in the Pacific this year.
In the June incident, another destroyer, the Fitzgerald, collided with a cargo ship off Japan. Seven sailors initially went missing in that collision before their bodies were later found in the flooded berthing compartments of the Fitzgerald.
After the McCain incident, the US Navy removed the commander of the Seventh Fleet, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, saying it had lost confidence in his leadership.
Last month, the US Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Scott Swift said he plans to retire after being passed over for promotion to the chief of all military forces in the region in the wake of the collisions. AGENCIES