‘Sudden turn’ of USS John S McCain caused fatal collision

Photo: US Navy

A “sudden turn” by the US Navy destroyer USS John S McCain, which put it in the path of the merchant ship Alnic MC, caused the collision between the two vessels in the Singapore Strait on August 21, 2017.

The USS John S McCain’s sudden turn was due to a series of missteps that took place after propulsion controls were transferred, Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau said in a report.

As explained, JSM’s crew did not recognize the processes involved in the transfer of propulsion and steering control. The crew were likely to have lacked the requisite knowledge of the steering control system due to inadequacies in training and familiarization.

“When the bridge team of Alnic MC saw the USS John S McCain turning, it presumed that the USS John S McCain would be able to safely pass ahead. The collision happened within three minutes of the USS John S McCain turning to port, and the actions taken by Alnic MC were insufficient to avoid the collision,” the report says.

The naval vessel and the Liberian-registered tanker collided in the westbound lane of the Singapore Strait, in Singapore territorial waters about 4.6 nautical miles from Horsburgh Lighthouse.

The collision resulted in ten fatalities on the USS John S McCain.

In January, the US Navy said that former officers in charge of the USS John S McCain were facing charges of dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel and negligent homicide. Additional administrative actions have been conducted for four crewmembers of the destroyer.

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