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Remains found on US warship that collided off Singapore: US Navy

Divers searching for 10 missing sailors on a US destroyer that collided with a tanker off Singapore have found human remains, the commander of the US Pacific Fleet said Tuesday.

   The US Navy has announced a fleet-wide global investigation following the latest deadly warship collision, the second in two months.

   "The divers were able to locate some remains in those sealed compartments during their search today," Admiral Scott Swift told reporters, referring to a search by divers of compartments of the damaged warship USS John S. McCain.

   He said Malaysian authorities, involved in the three-nation air and sea search for the sailors, had also found a body and it was being transferred to the US Navy for identification.

USS John S. McCain. Yonhap
USS John S. McCain. Yonhap

   Apart from the missing, five sailors were injured. 

   The latest accident happened before dawn Monday in busy shipping lanes around the Strait of Singapore, with water flooding into the vessel after the huge hole was torn in the hull.

   It was the second fatal collision in two months -- after the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged cargo ship off Japan in June and left seven sailors dead -- and the fourth accident in the Pacific this year involving an American warship.

   The incidents have sparked concerns that the US Navy could be overstretched in Asia -- both ships were from the Japan-based Seventh Fleet -- as they tackle China's rising assertiveness and North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

   The McCain had been heading for a routine stop in Singapore after carrying out a "freedom of navigation operation" in the disputed South China Sea earlier in August, sparking a furious response from Beijing.

   On Monday the Chief of US Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson ordered commanders within a week to set aside time, perhaps "one or two days", for crews to sit down together for discussions.

   A "comprehensive review" of practices would also begin.

   "As you know, this is the second collision in three months and the last of a series of incidents in the Pacific theatre," Richardson said.

   "This trend demands more forceful action. As such, I have directed an operational pause be taken in all of our fleets around the world."

   The admiral did not rule out some kind of outside interference or a cyber-attack being behind the latest collision, but said he did not want to prejudge the inquiry. His broader remarks suggested a focus on "how we do business on the bridge."

   The damaged vessel is named after US Senator John McCain's father and grandfather, who were both admirals in the US navy.

   The tanker involved in the collision, which was used for transporting oil and chemicals and weighed over 30,000 gross tonnes, sustained some damage but no crew were injured, and Singapore said there was no oil pollution.