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New hull crack, typhoon divert collision-damaged USS McCain to Philippines

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

By TYLER HLAVAC | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 20, 2017

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – The collision-damaged USS John S. McCain – enroute from Singapore to Japan via a heavy-lift vessel – has been diverted to the Philippines because of new structural issues and a typhoon.

The guided-missile destroyer developed a 4-inch-long crack along its starboard side while transiting to Yokosuka Naval Base aboard the MV Treasure, 7th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Clay Doss told Stars and Stripes on Saturday.

Weather conditions associated with Typhoon Lan had already slowed the McCain’s journey to Japan, and the crack’s discovery led to the diversion to Subic Bay, Philippines, Doss said.

“Once pier side, experts will inspect the crack and determine if any additional repairs are needed before continuing to Yokosuka,” he said.

The cause of the crack and the extent of the structural issues are unknown, Doss said. The majority of the crew has already returned to Yokosuka, with only about 10 sailors remaining aboard the ship.

The McCain departed Singapore earlier this month after a deadly collision with an oil tanker on Aug. 21 killed 10 crew members. Sailors, families and base workers held a memorial ceremony at Yokosuka on Oct. 4 for those who perished in the collision.

The McCain’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez, and executive officer, Cmdr. Jessie Sanchez, were relieved earlier this month for what the Navy called a “preventable” collision. Alfredo Sanchez displayed “poor judgement” while Jessie Sanchez “exercised poor leadership of the ship's training program,” a statement said.

The Navy intends to fix the McCain at Yokosuka, while its sister ship, the USS Fitzgerald, will be sent to Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., for repairs. Seven Fitzgerald sailors were killed in a June 17 collision with a merchant vessel off Japan.

Although the McCain collision was deadlier, the ship suffered less damage, allowing it to be repaired at its homeport, officials said.

“Damage is less significant, impacted fewer systems compared with [Fitzgerald],” 7th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Clay Doss previously told Stars and Stripes. “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 guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain departs Singapore on the heavy-lift transport MV Treasure, Oct. 11, 2017.
COURTESY OF THE U.S. NAVY

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