10 Sailors Missing After US Warship Collides with Tanker near Singapore

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Malaysia is involved in a search-and-rescue operation after the 5.24am collision of the guided-missile destroyer USS John S McCain with an oil tanker near the Straits of Malacca.

Ten sailors are missing after a US warship collided with an oil tanker east of Singapore on Monday, the US Navy said, the second accident involving US Navy destroyers in Asian waters in little more than two months.

The guided-missile destroyer USS John S McCain collided with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while heading to Singapore for a routine port call, the Navy said in a statement.

“Initial reports indicate John S McCain sustained damage to her port side aft,” the Navy said. “There are currently 10 sailors missing and five injured.”

A search-and-rescue mission was underway involving Singaporean ships, helicopters and tug boats, as well as US Navy aircraft. Malaysian authorities said the collision happened in Malaysian waters in the South China Sea and that they were assisting in the search-and-rescue operation.

The warship was currently sailing under its own power and heading to port, the Navy said, without specifying which port.

The Alnic MC is a Liberian-flagged, 183 meter-long oil or chemical tanker of 50,760 deadweight tonnes, according to shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon.

Shipping data showed it last sent a transponder signal at 2258 GMT Sunday and had since come to a halt 10-20 km (6-12 miles) off the east coast of the Pengerang peninsula in Johor, southern Malaysia.

An Alnic crew member contacted later by Reuters by telephone said there was no oil spill from the tanker, which was carrying almost 12,00 tonnes of fuel oil from Taiwan to discharge in Singapore.

“We have not discharged the tanker yet,” said the crew member, who asked not to be identified.

“We are proceeding to Raffles Reserved Anchorage, where the owners will investigate the matter. There was some damage to the valve but no oil spill.”

The waterways around Singapore are some of the busiest and most important in the world, carrying around a third of global shipping trade.