Some remains found in search for missing U.S. sailors after collision near Singapore, officials say

Click to play video: 'Navy confirms remains found in flooded compartment on USS John McCain'
Navy confirms remains found in flooded compartment on USS John McCain
A commander for the U.S. Navy says divers have located remains in a flooded compartment aboard the USS John McCain – Aug 22, 2017

Some remains have been found in the search for the 10 sailors reported missing in the collision between the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters on Monday.

On Tuesday, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said some remains of navy sailors were found in a compartment of the warship. The commander also said that Malaysian officials have found one body that has not yet been identified.

It’s still not known how many remains of the soldiers were found.

READ MORE: 10 U.S. sailors missing after warship USS John S. McCain collides with oil tanker near Singapore

The focus of the search for 10 U.S. sailors missing after a collision between the warship and an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters shifted Tuesday to the damaged destroyer’s
flooded compartments.

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The collision on Monday tore a gaping hole in the McCain’s left rear hull and flooded adjacent compartments including crew berths and machinery and communication rooms. Five sailors were injured and 10 others were missing.

There was no immediate explanation for the collision. Singapore, at the southern 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.

It was the second major collision in two months involving the Pacific-based 7th Fleet and the Navy has ordered a broad investigation into its performance and readiness. Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided in waters off Japan. There were two lesser-known incidents in the first half of the year. In January, the USS Antietam guided missile cruiser ran aground near Yokosuka base, the home port of the 7th Fleet, and in May another cruiser, the USS Lake Champlain from the Navy’s 3rd Fleet, had a minor collision with a South Korean fishing boat.

VIDEO: 10 U.S. sailors feared dead after warship hits oil tanker

Click to play video: '10 U.S. sailors feared dead after warship hits oil tanker'
10 U.S. sailors feared dead after warship hits oil tanker

Megan Partlow of Ohio, who said her fiance was on board the McCain, told The Associated Press in a Facebook message that they last communicated on Sunday and she was losing hope of seeing him again.

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“My last text to him was ‘be safe,’ which is the same way we end every conversation. I’m just ready for answers,” she said. The identities of the missing have not been disclosed but Partlow said her fiance’s parents were in touch with the Navy’s family assistance centre.

Navy Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, on Monday ordered a pause in 7th Fleet operations for the next few days to allow commanders to get together with leaders, sailors and command officials and identify any immediate steps that need to be taken to ensure safety.

RELATED: Bodies of missing sailors found after collision between U.S. Navy destroyer, Philippine ship

A broader U.S. Navy review will look at the 7th Fleet’s performance, including personnel, navigation capabilities, maintenance, equipment, surface warfare training, munitions, certifications and how sailors move through their careers. Richardson said the review will be conducted with the help of the Navy’s office of the inspector general, the safety centre and private companies that make equipment used by sailors.

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.

China, Washington’s main rival for influence in the Asia-Pacific, seized on the McCain collision to accuse the Navy of endangering maritime navigation in the region. This year’s string of accidents shows the U.S. Navy “is becoming a dangerous obstacle in Asian waters,” the official China Daily newspaper said in its online edition.

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VIDEO: Navy to conduct broader probe after U.S. warship collision: Mattis

Click to play video: 'Navy to conduct broader probe after U.S. warship collision: Mattis'
Navy to conduct broader probe after U.S. warship collision: Mattis

The McCain and the Alnic MC oil tanker collided about 8.3 kilometres from Malaysia’s coast at the start of a designated sea lane for ships sailing into the busy Singapore Strait.

The Singapore government said no crew were injured on the Liberian-flagged Alnic, which sustained damage to a compartment at the starboard, or right, side at the front of the ship some 7 metres above its waterline. The ship had a partial load of fuel oil, according to the Greek owner of the tanker, Stealth Maritime Corp. S.A., but no apparent spill.

Several safety violations were recorded for the oil tanker at its last port inspection in July, one fire safety deficiency and two safety-of-navigation problems. The official database for ports in Asia doesn’t go into details and the problems apparently were not serious enough for the tanker to be detained.

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AP writers Lolita C. Baldor in Muscat, Oman, Stephen Wright in Bangkok, Deb Riechmann in Washington, Christopher Bodeen in Beijing and Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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