UPDATE 1 – 10 missing after U.S. warship hits cargo ship off Singapore

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At least 10 U.S. service members have been reported missing after the U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with a cargo ship east of Singapore, the U.S. Navy says. A search and rescue operation is underway.

The incident was reported at 5:24 a.m. Singapore time on Monday (6:24 a.m. in Japan) when the Navy ship collided with the merchant vessel Alnic MC in waters east of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca. The exact location was not immediately disclosed.

“Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side aft,” the U.S. 7th Fleet said in a brief, written statement. “Search and rescue efforts are underway in coordination with local authorities.”

At least 10 Sailors have been reported missing and five others have been injured, the Navy said. An Emergency Family Assistance Center has been opened and any concerned relatives may call +81-46-816-1728 or 243-1728 from a military base.

A large number of resources are assisting with the search and rescue operation, including tug boats from Singapore, the Singapore Navy Ship RSS Gallant, Singapore Navy helicopters, and the Singapore Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark.

“Our first priority is determining the safety of the ship and crew,” U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said in a comment posted on Twitter. “As more information is learned, we will share it.”

Monday’s accident occurred while the Navy vessel was transiting to a routine port visit in Singapore, Navy officials said. The other vessel, the Alnic MC, is a Liberian-flagged oil/chemical tanker, according to online tracker MarineTraffic.

After the accident, the USS John S. McCain resumed its way to Singapore on its own power, but crew members were continuing to fight flooding in several parts of the ship.

Responding to the news, U.S. Senator John McCain said on his Twitter account: “[My wife] Cindy and I are keeping America’s sailors aboard the USS John S McCain in our prayers tonight – appreciate the work of search & rescue crews.”

President Donald Trump was also asked about the accident as he returned to the White House on late Sunday evening (local time). “That’s too bad,” he said in response to shouted questions from reporters.

The accident comes just two months after the USS Fitzgerald collided with a merchant vessel off the coast of Japan, killing 7 U.S. Sailors and injuring 3 others. The U.S. Navy on Thursday announced that it had relieved 3 of the ship’s top officers as a result of that accident.

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