On Monday, at 6:24 a.m. Japan standard time (Sunday, 7:24 p.m. EST) the USS John McCain guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship east of Singapore.
The warship was damaged on its port side, but was able to make it back to port under its own power, however, Fox News reported that five sailors were injured, four of whom had to be evacuated by helicopter.
Singapore has sent tugboats and naval and coast guard vessels to aid the search, Indonesia has sent two warships, and Malaysia contributed three ships, five boats and aircraft from its navy and air force, the Tribune reported.
The U.S. has deployed Osprey aircraft and Seahawk helicopters to try to locate the missing service members.
CNN reported that the USS McCain is one of 14 ships equipped with the Aegis missile defense system, which has been considered possibly able to counter a North Korean missile launch.
This marks 2017’s fourth accident involving a warship in Asian waters, and CNN military analyst Rick Francona claimed this collision shouldn’t have occurred, no matter what the tanker did.
“How does a state-of-the-art Navy destroyer equipped with multiple radar systems and communications gear with a full bridge watch not see, detect and evade a 30,000 ton slow-moving (10 knots) behemoth?” he wondered.
In June, McCain’s sister ship, the USS Fitzgerald, which is also equipped with the defense system, was involved in a deadly collision, which CNN reported a U.S. Navy investigation deemed “avoidable.”
An active duty Navy officer expressed concerns over the preparedness of young officers. “It’s not the same level of training you used to get,” he told Fox News.
Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, tweeted that information will be shared as it is learned and “our first priority is determining the safety of the ship and crew.”
According to ABC News, the USS John McCain has a crew of 23 officers, 24 chief petty officers, and 291 sailors.