San Diego-Based USS America Leaves Singapore After Search For USS McCain Sailors
Monday, August 28, 2017
Photo by Wong Maye-E / Associated Press
The San Diego-based warship USS America departed Singapore Monday after concluding its support of the USS John S. McCain, which was involved in a collision last week.
America, an amphibious assault ship, was the first U.S. warship to come to the aid of the McCain after it collided with the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Alnic MC early Monday in the South China Sea, according to a U.S. Navy statement.
The McCain sustained heavy damage to its port side in the collision, but was nevertheless able to sail back to dock in Singapore, where it was met by the USS America.
While in Singapore, America provided support to the McCain crew including berthing for 155 sailors, daily supplies, counseling, medical and dental services and communications support, Navy officials said. Sailors aboard America also assisted with damage control efforts by providing additional watch- keeping personnel and extra equipment, and coordinated with authorities in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia in a search for the missing McCain crew that spanned over 2,100 square miles.
Helicopters searched several days for missing sailors in the waters near the Straits of Malacca where the collision occurred. That search was called off Thursday after it was determined that human remains found by the Royal Malaysian Navy were not those of a McCain sailor.
The Camp Pendleton-based 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Marine Aviation Combat Element and America's embarked helicopter squadron, Helicopter Combat Squadron 23, flew 17 sorties for over 60 combined hours in support of search-and-rescue operations.
Camp Pendleton-based Marine divers also assisted Navy divers in searching flooded compartments on the McCain where it is believed the bodies of eight sailors still remain.
The McCain collision is the second time a Navy ship has collided with a merchant vessel in recent months.
The USS Fitzgerald struck the Philippines-flagged ACX Crystal in June, killing seven sailors, including two from the San Diego area.
The twin collisions resulted in an extremely rare, single-day "operational pause" across the U.S. Navy being ordered on Monday.
Navy officials also said Wednesday that Seventh Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin was removed from his position after Admiral Scott Smith, Pacific Fleet commander, lost "confidence in (Aucoin's) ability to command."
On Friday, divers found the body of Electronics Technician 3rd Class Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, of Suffield, Connecticut. Earlier in the week, divers found the body of Electronics Technician 3rd Class Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, from Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
The eight sailors who remain missing are Electronics Technician 1st Class Charles Nathan Findley, 31, from Amazonia, Missouri; Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Abraham Lopez, 39, from El Paso, Texas; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, from Gaithersburg, Maryland; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jacob Daniel Drake, 21, from Cable, Ohio; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23, from Manchester, Maryland; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Corey George Ingram, 28, from Poughkeepsie, New York; Electronics Technician 3rd Class John Henry Hoagland III, 20, from Killeen, Texas; and Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Logan Stephen Palmer, 23, from Decatur, Illinois.
Editor's Note: It was previously reported USS America was headed home after leaving Singapore. It is not. It will continue on with its regularly scheduled deployment.
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