On August 21 this year the U.S. Arleigh Burke-class destroyer John S. McCain was in collision with the 51,000 ton tanker Alnic MC in the Strait of Malacca off the coast of Singapore following a steering malfunction on the warship. The collision resulted in the penetration of the hull of the McCain by the bulbous bow of the tanker and the consequent death of 10 young seamen who were trapped in their sleeping compartment below decks. Following emergency repairs at the Changi Naval Base in Singapore, the U.S. Navy decided to effect permanent repairs of the McCain at the U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility-Japan Regional Maintenance Center in Yokosuka, Japan. Being unseaworthy, the decision was taken by the Military Sealift Command to charter in the semi-submersible heavy lift vessel M.V. Treasure to carry the McCain to Japan. Loading of the McCain on the Treasure took place on October 6 off Singapore.
Built by Split Shipyard, Croatia
Owned by Dockwise B.V.
Operated by Anglo Eastern Ship Management, Hong Kong
Originally delivered in 1990, converted in 2008
GRT 42,515 tons
DWT 53,818 MT
Main engine: 11,952kW with a fixed propeller
Previous names: Jahre Target until 1993, Nord Jahre Target until 2000, Crude Target until 2003, Genmar Centaur until 2004, Front Target until 2007
The picture above left shows the McCain’s damaged port quarter and above right the temporary stiffened doubler plate welded over the damaged section of hull. While on the sea passage to Japan, the Treasure was diverted to the Philippines after the destroyer developed a small crack in its hull after experiencing heavy weather associated with the passage of Typhoon Lan. Repair costs are expected to be in excess of $200 million and will take around a year to complete.
M.V. Treasure, a converted tanker, joined the fleet of Dockwise Transport in 2008. The company operates the largest fleet of specialized semi-submersible heavy transport vessels (SSHTVs) in the world and is these days a subsidiary of the Boskalis Group which for BC locals also includes Saam Smit Towage. Classified as a heavy transport vessel, she is designed to move complex, high-value cargoes and has a carrying capacity in excess of 35,000 tons. She was converted at the COSCO Nantong Shipyard in China, during which the entire midship section was replaced. Anglo-Eastern Ship Management provides technical and crew management.
The collision with the Alnic MC was the second such incident involving the U.S. navy in just over two months, the other having involved John S. McCain‘s sister ship USS Fitzgerald and the container ship ACX Crystal with seven fatalities on the Fitzgerald. On November 1, reports were issued into the two collisions and were hard hitting in criticizing the actions taken (or lack of) on both warships in failing to avoid a collision or even recognize that a collision was imminent. Navy standing operating procedures which include failure to activate an AIS signal and operating in blackout mode while in heavy traffic came under scrutiny. Also, neither bridge’s watch standers sought to make bridge-to-bridge radio communication with the approaching ship, which is a standard procedure. Several senior naval officers including the commanders of both vessels were dismissed on account of these incidents. See the full navy report at http://s3.amazonaws.com/CHINFO/USS+Fitzgerald+and+USS+John+S+McCain+Collision+Reports.pdf
The McCain is named after John S. McCain Sr and John S. McCain Jr., both of whom were Admirals in the U.S. navy. They were respectively, the grandfather and father of Senator John S. McCain, a navy pilot and former Vietnam prisoner of war and who was recently diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor.
USS Fitzgerald is named in honor of Lieutenant William C. Fitzgerald, who was posthumously awarded the U.S. Navy’s highest decoration for valor, the Navy Cross, for extraordinary heroism in Vietnam.