SINGAPORE: Ten sailors are missing and five are injured after a US destroyer was involved in a collision with a merchant ship east of Singapore on Monday (Aug 21), the US Navy said in a statement.

“The guided-missile destroyer USS John S McCain (DDG 56) was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while under way east of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca on Aug 21,” the statement from the US 7th Fleet Public Affairs said.

“The collision was reported at 6.24am Japan Standard Time, while the ship was transiting to a routine port visit in Singapore.

“Initial reports indicate John S McCain sustained damage to her port side aft. The extent of damage and personnel injuries is being determined. The incident will be investigated,” the statement added.

Search and rescue efforts are under way in coordination with local authorities: “In addition to tug boats out of Singapore, the Republic of Singapore Navy ship RSS Gallant (97), RSN helicopters and Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark (55) are currently in the area to render assistance.

MV-22s and SH-60s from USS America are also responding,” the statement added.

“The ship is currently sailing under its own power and heading to port,” the US Navy said in an update.

File photo of the Alnic MC oil tanker. (Photo: MarineTraffic)

The merchant vessel Alnic MC is described as a 180-metre long Liberian flagged oil and chemical tanker on the MarineTraffic website. It has a deadweight of more than 50,000 tonnes.

Malaysia has also sent a a ship to render assistance. It’s navy chief Admiral Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin told Channel NewsAsia that the KD Handalan has been deployed.

Shipping data showed it last sent a transponder signal at 2258 GMT on Sunday. The ship data showed it was “ballasting”, meaning that it was not loaded full of oil for cargo.

The US Navy vessel is named after US Republican Senator John McCain, a Vietnam War-era naval aviator who was shot down and held prisoner for five-and-a-half years. He is now undergoing treatment for brain cancer.

“Cindy & I are keeping America’s sailors aboard the USS John S McCain in our prayers tonight – appreciate the work of search & rescue crews,” McCain said on Twitter.

The McCain is the second US guided-missile destroyer to be involved in a collision in two months. In June, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippines container ship off the coast of Japan, killing seven navy sailors. The two senior officers and the senior enlisted sailor on the Fitzgerald were removed after the incident.

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.

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