5 sailors injured after USS John S McCain collides with oil tanker off coast of Singapore; 10 still missing

The authorities say that the collision happened while the ship was on a routine port visit in Singapore.

USS John S McCain
The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, off Johor, Malaysia, in this handout August 21, 2017. Reuters

The US Navy said in a statement that 10 sailors are missing and five are injured after a US destroyer and an oil tanker collided off the coast of Singapore on Monday.

"The guided-missile destroyer USS John S McCain (DDG 56) was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while under way east of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca on Aug 21," the statement from the US Seventh Fleet Public Affairs said.

According to the statement, the collision happened while the ship was on a routine port visit in Singapore. The incident was reported at 5.24 am.

"Initial reports indicate John S McCain sustained damage to her port side aft. The extent of damage and personnel injuries is being determined. The incident will be investigated," it said.

Later in an update, the US Navy said that the ship is sailing under its own power and heading to port.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said in a statement that Singapore is leading search and rescue efforts, and it is "rendering all possible assistance". Meanwhile, Malaysia has also sent a ship to render assistance.

According to the statement, the Republic of Singapore Air Force helicopters have transferred the injured from the US ship to Singapore for medical attention, and MPA has sent three tug boats to assist on the US ship's request.

MPA added that the Alnic MC sustained damage to her fore peak tank 7m above the waterline, with no crew injuries. Both the ships were on their way to Singapore for damage assessment. "There is no report of oil pollution and traffic in the Singapore Strait is unaffected. MPA is investigating the incident," it said.

MPA further added that the Singapore Navy and coast guard have deployed four vessels to help with rescue efforts. The US Navy said in a statement that these include the RSS Gallant and coast guard vessel Basking Shark. "MV-22s and SH-60s from USS America are also responding," the statement added.

The authorities describe Alnic MC as a 180-metre long Liberian flagged oil and chemical tanker. It has a dead-weight of more than 50,000 tonnes.

According to a crew member, the Alnic MC was carrying nearly 12,000 tonnes of fuel oil, but there was no oil spill.

"We are carrying 11,987 tonnes of fuel oil. There is no oil spill. We were carrying fuel oil from Taiwan to discharge to Singapore ... We are proceeding to Raffles Reserved Anchorage where the owners will investigate the matter. There was some damage to the valve," the crew member who did not want to be identified, told Reuters via telephone.

According to VesselsValue, which provides shipping and maritime data, the Alnic MC was scheduled to arrive in Singapore at 11am. But, the authorities said that the vessel's position at 6.58 am Singapore time was at latitude 1.42018 and longitude 104.4326

VesselsValue added that the vessel is owned by a Greek company Brave Maritime Corporation and is reportedly worth US$17.36 million (S$23.6 million).