Human remains have been found in sealed compartments aboard the USS John S. McCain, according to the commander of the US Pacific Fleet says.
At a news conference in Singapore on Tuesday Admiral Scott Swift said Malaysian officials have also found one body that has not yet been identified.
The focus of the search for 10 US sailors missing after a collision between the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters shifted on Tuesday to the damaged destroyer’s flooded compartments.
The collision on Monday tore a gaping hole in the McCain’s left rear hull and flooded adjacent compartments including crew berths and machinery and communication rooms.
Five sailors were injured.
“The divers were able to locate some remains in those sealed compartments during their search today,” confirmed Admiral Swift..
“We will continue the search and rescue operations until the probability of discovering sailors is exhausted.”
It was the second major collision in two months involving the Pacific-based 7th Fleet and the Navy has ordered a broad investigation into its performance and readiness.
Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided in waters off Japan. There were two lesser-known incidents in the first half of the year.
In January, the USS Antietam guided missile cruiser ran aground near Yokosuka base, the home port of the 7th Fleet, and in May another cruiser, the USS Lake Champlain from the Navy’s 3rd Fleet, had a minor collision with a South Korean fishing boat.
“While each of these four incidents is unique, they cannot be viewed in isolation,” Swift said. He said the Navy would conduct an investigation “to find out if there is a common cause … and if so, how do we solve that.”
Search for sailors continues by air and sea
Earlier on Tuesday, the 7th Fleet said the sea search by aircraft and ships from the US, Singapore and Malaysian navies would continue east of Singapore where the McCain and the tanker collided.
Megan Partlow of Ohio, who said her fiance was on board the McCain, told Associated Press in a Facebook message that they last communicated on Sunday and she was losing hope of seeing him again.
“My last text to him was ‘be safe,’ which is the same way we end every conversation. I’m just ready for answers,” she said.
The identities of the missing have not been disclosed but Partlow said her fiance’s parents were in touch with the Navy’s family assistance centre.
Admiral John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, on Monday ordered a pause in 7th Fleet operations for the next few days to allow commanders to get together with leaders, sailors and command officials and identify any immediate steps that need to be taken to ensure safety.