By Rick Wells
Something seems to be amiss with America’s destroyers and the waters of the South China Sea, with two having been involved in collisions in the last couple of months and it appears now a combined 17 lives of US Navy Sailors have been lost.
Ten American sailors remain missing and five injured after and oil tanker collided with the guided-missile destroyer USS John S McCain collided off the coast of Singapore. Four of the injured were flown aboard a Singapore Navy helicopter to a Singapore hospital with non-life threatening injuries. A fifth injured sailor did not require additional treatment.
Two months ago, in mid June, a similar collision with a merchant vessel claimed the lives of seven sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald. Both the Fitzgerald and the John S. McCain, named not after the Senator but his father and grandfather, are anti-ballistic missile defense capable vessels. They are two critical components in our ability to protect against a missile attack by North Korea that are now out of service and removed from the military equation.
David Larter, a US navy veteran and naval warfare writer told theGuardian, “Collisions like these are extremely rare and two in one summer, both from 7th Fleet based in Japan, is stunning.” He added it was too early to determine what might have led to the collision of the McCain.
Larter said, “The number of breakdowns that have to occur for something like this to happen make them a rare occurrence. Sailors monitor radars around the clock, they have multiple sailors standing watch on the bridge which also has a radar, and they have at least one lookout posted at the back end of the ship to watch for exactly these kinds of situations.”
Particularly after the suspicious circumstances of what some believe may have been a deliberate strike on the Fitzgerald, every American crew should be at a state of heightened vigilance and alert. Something doesn’t seem right.
As the video below indicates, both the Fitzgerald and McCain, as Arleigh-Burke class destroyers, are quite capable and formidable elements of our naval power in the region. A full inquiry, including interrogations and polygraphs of the crew of the tanker. Something isn’t right here.
Below is a look at just what the John S. McCain is capable of and why the loss of two of these ships is significant, in addition to the lives of the crew members.