The US Navy on Monday ordered a worldwide “operational pause” to reassess its fleet after a destroyer collided with a tanker near Singapore, leaving 10 sailors missing and five injured.
The dramatic pre-dawn accident sent water flooding into the USS John S. McCain, which limped into port in the city-state under escort later in the day. It was the second major accident involving a US warship in two months.
“This trend demands more forceful action. As such, I have directed an operational pause be taken in all of our fleets around the world,” Navy Admiral John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, said in a statement.
“I want our fleet commanders to get together with their leaders and their commands to ensure that we are taking all appropriate and immediate actions to ensure safe and effective operations around the world,” he added.
“In addition to that operational pause I have directed a more comprehensive review to ensure that we get at the contributing factors, the root causes of these incidents.”
Richardson said the review would come in addition to ongoing investigations into the collision of the USS McCain, and that of the destroyer USS Fitzgerald two months earlier off Japan, which left seven American sailors dead.
A search involving ships and aircraft from three countries was launched for the missing sailors after Monday’s collision with the Alnic MC, which took place in the Singapore Strait near the Strait of Malacca.
Analysts said the accident raised questions about whether the US Navy was overstretched in Asia as it seeks to combat Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.