Misaligned propeller shaft delays collision-damaged USS McCain’s return to sea, Navy says

The USS John S. McCain's propellers are visible while in dry dock at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, Jan. 26, 2016.


By STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 19, 2019

TOKYO — The USS John S. McCain will be out of service longer than anticipated due to problems discovered during testing after the guided-missile destroyer moved out of dry dock in November, according to a report Thursday in Defense News.

The destroyer — assigned to the 7th Fleet at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan — underwent two years’ worth of repairs following its collision in August 2017 with a commercial tanker near Singapore. A berthing area on the warship was impacted, leaving 10 sailors dead.

Defense News, citing unnamed sources, reported that a waterborne test discovered high vibrations due to a misaligned port shaft that turns one of the ship’s twin screws.

The news site reported that Naval Sea Systems Command confirmed the misaligned shaft will delay the McCain’s return to service. The vessel was expected back at sea this spring, the new site reported.

A spokesman for 7th Fleet on Friday confirmed essential elements of the report. Following its launch in November, the McCain underwent a sequence of tests.

“During the testing, Navy maintenance subject matter experts determined the ship’s port shaft was misaligned likely due to the August 2017 collision,” Lt. Joe Keiley told Stars and Stripes in an email.

The process of correctly aligning the shaft is underway and is scheduled to be complete in October with remaining work in the Ship Repair Facility finished in November, he wrote. Afterword, the McCain will undergo training and certification to prepare it for a return to service.

At a change-of-command ceremony July 2, the outgoing skipper, Cmdr. Micah Murphy, alluded to the ship being back in service in the fall.

The McCain spent 11 months in dry dock as part of repairs following the collision. The ship, which just marked 25 years in service, incurred about $200 million in damages.

The McCain was one of two 7th Fleet destroyers involved in fatal collisions the summer of 2017. The USS Fitzgerald, still undergoing repairs in at the Huntington-Ingalls Ingalls Shipbuilding shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., moved out of dry dock there in April.

The Fitzgerald in June 2017 collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship 80 nautical miles southwest of Tokyo, leaving seven sailors dead. It requires about $300 million in repairs and is expected to return to service next year.

In the wake of both collisions, the Navy examined its operational tempo and adherence to training and certification standards. Navy officials have testified before Congress and spoke publicly in the media that improvements have been made, although some reports indicate the service is still addressing those issues.


The USS John S. McCain is pulled toward a pier after leaving dry dock at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, Nov. 27, 2018. Ten McCain sailors were killed Aug. 21, 2017, when the guided-missile destroyer collided with a commercial vessel near Singapore.