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From late January 2017, four US naval ships have been involved in various incidents.

The recent is the collision incident  involving USS John S McCain where a number of US sailors lost their lives.

Currently, US fleet operations around the world are on an “operational pause” as ordered by the Pentagon to allow for safety checks and review.

This article follows a series of incidents that occured in just 2017 involving US naval ships while they were carrying out routine operations around Asia.

USS Antietam.

US naval ships

USS Antietam

The vessel was anchored off the coast when a strong tide and strong wind up to 30knot made the ship drag its anchor and run aground on a shoal.

The incident led to damage to both propellers and one of the propeller hubs, causing 1,100 US gallons (4,200 l) of hydraulic oil to leak into the water.

The incident did not result in any injuries as none were reported.

USS Lake Champlain.

US naval ships

USS Lake Champlain

In May 9, 2017, a South Korean fishing boat accidentally struck the USS Lake Champlain, while the Navy warship was conducting operations in international waters near the Korean Peninsula. No injuries were reported.

While the fishing vessel was approaching, the Navy ship had attempted to contact the vessel via radio and other means but no response.

The fishing vessel crew later confirmed that they didn’t have a radio.

Both vessels were damaged but still able to sail away under their own power.

USS Fitzgerald

US naval ships

USS Fitzgerald

On 17 June 2017, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship MV ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan which resulted in the deaths of seven US sailors.

According to reports, the Philippine flagged container ship struck directly on the starboard side of the Fitzgerald at about 1:30 a.m, 56 nautical miles off Yokosuka, Japan.

The Fitzgerald was left with serious damages. The commander’s cabin, a machinery space, the radio room, and two crew sleeping areas were damaged.

Reports shows that of the 35 sailors in the sleeping area at the time of the collision, 28 were able to escape, but the remaining seven sailors were missing. Their bodies were found the next day after rescuers gained access to flooded areas.

Among the Several sailirs injured was the commanding officer Commander Bryce Benson.

According to early damage estimates, repairs for the damage to Fitzgerald are expected to be above  $400 million.

The Fitzgerald is unable to sail with its engines and is to be transported on a heavy lift ship from Japan to the United States in September 2017.

USS John S. McCain

At 5:24 a.m, on 21 August 2017, the USS John S. McCain collided with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while the destroyer was making its way to a port in Singapore. Initial report indicated ten US sailors missing and five sailors injured.

USS John S McCain after incident

The ship, sustained damage to her port side aft, resulting in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew sleeping areas, machinery spaces and communications rooms.

On the same day, the Pentagon ordered an “operational pause” for all fleet operations around the world to make safety checks during the following two weeks and have a full safety review.

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The big question.
What is the cause of these recent happenings?

Onboard a ship, incidents and accidents are as a result of a limited number of causes.

Among them are Human error, Machinery failure and Navigational equipment failure.

Fatigue, incompetent personnels, poor communication between crew members, low morale, improper watch handing over are some of the factors that leads to human error.

Poor vessel maintainance system and other unforseen occurrence could lead to failure in navigational equipments and machineries.

In immediate reports following the incidents, no failure in navigational equipment or machinery were indicated.

The U.S. Navy officials are looking at the possibility that a cyber attack may be at play. Although the complexity and advancement of their security and defence system makes that unlikely.

Our heart goes out to the families of the sailors that lost their lives during the incidents.

Some were asleep and died as a result of the impact when they were rammed into.
Some were unable to escape from machinery spaces and sleeping area when it was becoming filled with water.
For those injured we wish speedy recovery.

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