The Latest: Pentagon chief confirms investigation into Navy accidents

SINGAPORE (AP) – The Latest on collision between the USS John S. McCain guided missile destroyer and an oil tanker east of Singapore (all times local):

10:15 p.m.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis confirms that the Navy will conduct a broad investigation into the collision in Southeast Asia between the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker, and other recent Navy accidents at sea.

Mattis tells reporters traveling with him in Jordan that he’s sent condolences to families of sailors on the guided missile destroyer. It’s the second crash involving a ship from U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet in the Pacific in two months.

Ten sailors are missing and a search is underway.

Mattis says the Navy is putting together a “broader inquiry” that also looks at the USS Fitzgerald accident in waters off Japan in June. Seven sailors died in that accident.

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9:50 p.m.

A U.S. defense official says the Navy’s top officer is ordering a broad investigation into the performance and readiness of America’s Pacific-based 7th Fleet – after two ship collisions in the past two months.

And there have been four ship crashes in the past two years.

The defense official says Navy Adm. John Richardson – who’s the chief of naval operations – has directed Adm. Phil Davidson to lead the investigation. Davidson heads the Navy’s Fleet Forces.

The official says Richardson wants to ensure there aren’t bigger problems that may be masked by the high pace of ship operations in the Pacific region.

The official wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the investigation and therefore spoke on condition of anonymity.

-Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor in Muscat, Oman.

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7:30 p.m.

The Navy says a U.S. ship has arrived in Singapore to help the USS John S. McCain, a destroyer that was damaged in a collision with an oil tanker that injured five sailors and left 10 others missing.

The Navy’s 7th Fleet said the amphibious assault ship USS America will help with damage control efforts aboard the McCain and with the search for the missing sailors. It also will feed and house sailors from the stricken ship.

Monday’s collision east of Singapore was the second involving a ship from the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet in the Pacific in two months. The Navy said “significant damage” to the McCain’s hull caused flooding in adjacent compartments, including crew berths, machinery and communications rooms.

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5:00 p.m.

The oil tanker involved in a collision with the USS John S. McCain destroyer in busy Southeast Asian waters had four deficiencies including navigation safety violations in its last port inspection.

An official database for ports in Asia shows the Alnic MC was inspected in the Chinese port of Dongying on July 29 and had one document deficiency, one fire safety deficiency and two safety of navigation problems.

The database doesn’t go into details and the problems were apparently not serious enough for the Liberian-flagged and Greek-owned vessel to be detained by the port authority.

There has been no explanation of the cause of the accident. The Navy has said it is investigating. Authorities in Singapore and Malaysia have refused to speculate on the cause.

Ten U.S. sailors are missing and four were hospitalized for injuries.

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4:10 p.m.

The chief of Malaysia’s Maritime Enforcement Agency says the collision between an oil tanker and the USS John S. McCain guided missile destroyer early Monday occurred at the start of a designated sea lane for ships sailing into the Singapore Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

Zulkifli Abu Bakar said the incident occurred 4.5 nautical miles (8.3 kilometers) from Malaysia’s coast. He said a Malaysian warship was in the area monitoring the cleanup of an oil spill from an unrelated collision of two merchant ships and was contacted by the McCain. Ten U.S. sailors are missing and four were hospitalized in Singapore with injuries. Both Malaysia and Singapore say the accident happened in their waters, likely reflecting a dispute about ownership of some rocky outcrops in the area.

“It happened in Malaysian territorial waters, specifically in Teluk Ramunia waters,” Zulkifli said. “For this moment, we shouldn’t argue about whose waters. Most important thing is we focus on the search and rescue.” He refused to speculate on the cause of the collision.

In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain conducts a patrol in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region. The guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship on Monday, Aug. 21, in waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca. (James Vazquez/U.S. Navy via AP)

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3:17 p.m.

The U.S. Navy says the USS John S. McCain has arrived at Singapore’s naval base with “significant damage” to its hull after a collision early Monday between it and an oil tanker.

The 7th Fleet says in a statement that damage to the guided missile destroyer’s hull flooded nearby compartments including crew berths, machinery and communications rooms. It says damage control efforts prevented further flooding.

Ten sailors are missing and four were hospitalized in Singapore with injuries after being evacuated by helicopter. A multinational search and rescue effort involving Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the U.S. is underway.

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