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Another navy collision

The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after an early morning collision between the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters left 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

It was the second major collision in the last two months involving the Navy's 7th Fleet. Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided in waters off Japan.

Navy Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, will call for a pause in operations and seek a deeper look at how the Navy trains and certifies its forces that are operating around Japan, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said.

"He has put together a broader inquiry to look into these incidents," Mattis said, referring to the two recent collisions and other accidents at sea. Mattis spoke to reporters in Amman, Jordan, where he is travelling.

Vessels and aircraft from the U.S., Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia are searching for the missing sailors. Four other sailors were evacuated by a Singaporean navy helicopter to a hospital in the city-state for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, the Navy said. A fifth was taken to the hospital by ambulance after the destroyer arrived in Singapore under its own power, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said.

There was no immediate explanation for the collision. Singapore, at the southernmost tip of the Malay Peninsula, is one of the world's busiest ports and a U.S. ally, with its naval base regularly visited by American warships.

The McCain had been heading to Singapore on a routine port visit after conducting a sensitive freedom-of-navigation operation last week by sailing near one of China's man-made islands in the South China Sea. The collision east of Singapore between the 154-metre destroyer guided missile destroyer and the 183-metre Alnic MC ripped a gaping hole in the destroyer's hull.

The Navy's 7th Fleet said "significant damage" to the McCain's hull resulted in the flooding of adjacent compartments including crew berths, machinery and communications rooms. 

The destroyer was damaged on its port side aft, or left rear, in the 5:24 a.m. collision about 4.5 nautical miles from Malaysia's coast but was able to sail on to Singapore's naval base. 



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