Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the US military archdiocese offered prayers Monday after a US Navy destroyer collided with a tanker off the coast of Singapore, resulting in five injured and 10 missing US sailors. Remains of some of the missing sailors were found in sealed crew compartments by divers the following day. It was the second crash involving a US Navy ship in as many months, and the fourth in a year.
“Once again the shepherds and faithful of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, raise our voices in prayer for the deceased, injured, and remaining members of the crew of the USS John S. McCain, which collided with another ship last night,” Archbishop Broglio said Aug. 21. “We pray for the repose of their souls and for the families who mourn such a tragic loss.” “Mindful of those who defend the nation in troubled times and in danger, we renew our prayers for a just and lasting peace in the world,” he concluded.
The collision between the USS John S. McCain and a commercial oil tanker Alnic MC occurred east of the Malacca Strait off the coast of Singapore around 5:20 am.
Four of the five injured sailors were airlifted to a hospital in Singapore, though their injuries are not considered life-threatening. According to CNN, a search and rescue mission for the 10 missing sailors is ongoing and has recovered one body, which they are working to identify. Tuesday US Navy Admiral Scott Swift said that “some remains” of the other missing U.S. sailors have been found in sealed compartments aboard the ship. “Until we have exhausted any potential of recovering survivors or bodies, the search and rescue efforts will continue,” Swift stated.
The USS John S. McCain is named in honor of John S. McCain, Sr. and John S. McCain, Jr., who were admirals. They are the grandfather and father, respectively, of Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.). The destroyer was commissioned in 1994.
According to a Navy official, the collision was caused when the crew lost control of the ship through a steering failure. In response, the Navy ordered a rare, one-day pause of operations. This means that over the next few weeks, fleets will take a one-day, safety stand-down at the discretion of individual fleet commanders. Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations, said that the "trend demands more forceful action" and that there will be "a deliberate reset for our ships focused on a number of areas, such as navigation, ship's mechanical systems and bridge resource management."
The Alnic MC sustained some damage above the waterline, but none of its crew were injured and no oil spilled.
On June 17 a similar accident occurred when the USS Fitzgerald, also a destroyer, collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan. Seven sailors died as a result of the accident. The bodies of the deceased sailors were all recovered aboard the ship. At the time of the accident, Archbishop Broglio expressed his “heartfelt sympathy to the families whose loved ones perished in this unfortunate incident.” “Deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life on the USS Fitzgerald, I ask all of the faithful to remember in prayer the victims and their families.”
“The Naval community at Yokosuka has responded with great care in attempting to meet the physical, psychological, and spiritual needs of those who survived the collision,” he continued. “May Almighty God give them continued fortitude in the days ahead.” In May, a US Navy guided missile cruiser collided with a fishing vessel, and in August 2016 one of its submarines collided with a support vessel.