The collision between the US Navy destroyer John S McCain and the Greek owned oil/chemical tanker Alnic MC, 50,760dwt, in the Singapore Strait on Aug 21 last year was caused by the destroyer making a sudden turn to port into the path of the tanker, according to the Singapore Transport Safety Investigation Bureau.
The collision occurred in the westbound lane of the Strait in Singapore territorial waters about 4.6 miles from Horsburgh Lighthouse.
In its investigation into the accident in which 10 US Navy sailors died, the Bureau found that the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer made the turn because of a series of missteps that took place after propulsion controls were transferred.
The Bureau’s report in March concluded: “The transfer of propulsion controls 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 destroyer’s turn to port.
“The destroyer’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.”
The report stated: “When the bridge team of the Alnic MC saw the John S McCain turning, it presumed that the destroyer would be able to safely pass ahead. The accident happened within three minutes of the destroyer turning to port, and the actions taken by Alnic MC were insufficient to avoid the collision.”