The U.S. Navy says divers have recovered the remains of all 10 sailors from the USS John S. McCain, the naval ship that collided with a merchant vessel last week.
Last Monday, the USS McCain became the second U.S. guided-missile destroyer to collide with a commercial vessel in as many months.
U.S. investigators are trying to determine what led to the collision with a Liberian oil tanker near the Strait of Malacca. Navy photos show a gaping hole below the waterline on the destroyer's port (left) side. Some sleeping areas and communications rooms flooded as a result.
In response to the incident, the Navy ordered an immediate operational pause across the U.S. fleet and dismissed the commander of the 7th Fleet, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin.
In the earlier collision involving a U.S. destroyer, seven sailors from the USS Fitzgerald died when their ship collided with a container ship in waters off Japan. The Navy relieved the ship's captain of his command, and further punitive actions are expected, following an inquiry that found poor seamanship and flaws in keeping watch contributed to the collision.
Brad Glosserman, executive director of the defense think tank Pacific Forum, said so many accidents involving the same fleet suggests there is a problem with the Navy's procedures or training. He cited the importance of the Asia-Pacific region and the many challenges there, including North Korea's nuclear threat, China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and terrorist activities — all on top of U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
'What's the problem?'
“It's just extraordinarily high paced tempo in operations, our resources are stretched, our crews are probably not getting the rest or the training that they need, and as a result, we have accidents,” Glosserman told VOA.
“The countries that are looking to us to help defend the sea lanes, to help defend them, to provide as you note deterrence and security and stability are looking at this and wondering, what's the problem? And until we come up with good answers and until these things stop happening, they're going to have doubts.”
The USS McCain is named for the father and grandfather of U.S. Senator John McCain, both of them four-star Navy admirals. The senator also was a naval officer, an aviator who spent six years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.