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Collision-damaged USS McCain departs Singapore for repairs in Japan

The USS John S. McCain is towed away from the pier at Changi Naval Base, Singapore, to meet the heavy-lift transport vessel MV Treasure, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017.

MICAH BLECHNER/U.S. NAVY PHOTO

By TYLER HLAVAC | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 4, 2017

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The USS John S. McCain has left Singapore for its homeport in Japan, where it will undergo repairs from a summer collision that killed 10 sailors.

The decision to do the work at Yokosuka was made after damage assessments revealed it would be faster and cheaper than sending the ship stateside, the Navy said in a statement. The decision also allows sailors to stay with their families during the repairs.

Sailors, families and base workers held a memorial ceremony on Wednesday at Yokosuka for the 10 McCain sailors who died in the Aug. 21 collision with an oil tanker near Singapore.

The guided-missile destroyer, which departed Singapore’s Changi Naval Base on Thursday, will link up with the heavy-lift transport vessel MV Treasure, the Navy said. The McCain will spend a few days loading onto the MV Treasure before being hauled to Yokosuka.

While repairs take place, McCain sailors will conduct training needed to prepare the ship to resume operations with 7th Fleet, Navy officials said.

Meanwhile, the McCain’s sister ship, the USS Fitzgerald, is heading stateside to repair damage from a June 17 collision with a merchant vessel off Japan that killed seven sailors. Navy officials cited the complexity of the work and limited dry dock space as reasons for not fixing the ship at the Yokosuka.

Fifty sailors from the Fitzgerald’s crew of about 300 will remain aboard the ship when it travels to Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., this fall. Most of the remaining crew will be reassigned to other units in Japan, officials said.

Although the McCain collision was deadlier, the ship suffered less damage, allowing it to be repaired in Japan, officials said.

“Damage is less significant, impacted fewer systems compared with [Fitzgerald],” 7th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Clay Doss said. “For example, there was no significant damage to the superstructure, which is more likely to require U.S.-based shipyard repairs.”

hlavac.tyler@stripes.com

The USS John S. McCain arrives at Changi Naval Base, Singapore, following a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21, 2017.
JOSHUA FULTON/U.S. NAVY PHOTO

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