USS John S. McCain and  Liberian-registered Alnic MC collided on August, 2017 in the Singapore Strait, and ten US Navy sailors lost their lives.

After the warship made the sudden turn to the left, the crew of Alnic assumed that USS John S McCain would pass safely ahead. However, within three minuted the collision happened, despite the actions that Alnic MC took to avoid it.

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The reason why the accident happened is due to multiple errors that happened after propulsion controls were transferred, according to the report, as the warship unintentionally increased the rate of the vessel’s turn.


Conclusions

  • The collision between JSM and AM as they were transiting through the Singapore Strait happened because of a sudden turn to Port by JSM, which caused it to head into the path of AM.
  • JSM’s sudden turn to Port was due to a series of missteps that took place after a transfer of propulsion controls, which led to a confusion as to which station had steering control, and an unintentional reduction of the Port engine throttle which increased the rate of JSM’s turn to Port.
  • JSM’s crew did not recognise the processes involved in the transfer of propulsion and steering control. The crew were likely to have lacked the requisite knowledge of the steering control system due to inadequacies in training and familiarisation.
  • When AM’s Bridge team saw JSM turning, it presumed that JSM would be able to safely pass ahead. The collision happened within three minutes of JSM turning to Port, and the actions taken by AM were insufficient to avoid the collision. AM’s Bridge team was not manned in accordance with the company’s SMS, and the Master did not have full support on the Bridge.

Safety Actions

Stealth Maritime Corporation S.A.

  • The Company has increased its oversight of its managed ships and is considering implementing remote VDR-auditing to assess the effectiveness of its SMS on board ships.
  • The Company has reviewed its SMS to ensure prescribed requirements for safety of navigation are adhered to, and taken measures to ensure effective Bridge Team Management on board its vessels.

US Navy

  • Following the collision, the US Navy issued a directive to all their assets to switch on the AIS, particularly in areas of high vessel traffic density, to enable their ships to be identified by merchant vessels and VTIS authorities.
  • Reportedly concerned about the workload of crew on naval vessels, the US Navy would be looking into increasing the manning levels, in addition to instituting circadian rhythm-based watch schedules in lieu of traditional five-onten-off watch schedules to address matters relating to fatigue.
  • To improve situational awareness capabilities, the US Navy is looking to reintroduce manoeuvring boards or manual acquisition of all surface contacts with an initial CPA of 5000 yards or less, and to put crew through a Bridge Resource Management course.

Recently, the head of Naval Reactors Adm. James F. Caldwell dismissed the NJP charges against one officer and one enlisted crew member. The second enlisted member was found guilty of violating Article 92 (dereliction in the performance of duties) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and was awarded a punitive letter of reprimand, forfeiture of a half month‘s pay for two months and reduction in rate to the next inferior paygrade. The forfeiture of pay and reduction in rate were suspended for a period of six months. Moreover, former McCain CO Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez would appear before a military judge at the Washington Navy Yard.

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