The Navy’s top officer said Monday that there was no indication as of yet that the Monday collision between the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker in the Pacific was intentional.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told reporters that the Navy was looking at all possible causes for the collision, which happened early Monday morning near Singapore. Ten sailors are still missing after the incident and five were injured.
When asked if he had any reason to believe the crash was intentional on either side, including cyber or electronic meddling, Richardson said it was “certainly something we are giving full consideration to.”
“We have no indication that that’s the case, yet. We’re looking at every possibility so we’re not leaving anything to chance.”
Richardson also addressed the temporary halt in operations for the Pacific-based 7th Fleet, which operates around Japan, and insisted it was not unusual.
He called for the hold as part of a servicewide investigation into Naval operations and training, but said he would leave it to his fleet commanders to determine “how they should get at this.”
“The actual duration of the pause, I would envision one to two days,” Richardson said.
“An operational pause is a time where you sort of stand down, you devote some time at the command level … you do an assessment and a review of those sort of fundamental practices [for] safe and effective operations. This is not the first time that we’ve done something like this.”
The pause was triggered after the McCain, a guided-missile destroyer, became the second ship within three months to collide with a commercial vessel in the Pacific.
Another guided-missile destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan on June 17. Seven U.S. sailors were killed in the accident.
“This is obviously an extremely serious incident and is the second such incident in a very short period of time,” he said. “That gives a great cause for concern that there’s something out there that we’re not getting at.”
Richardson has directed each of the fleet commanders to put together a plan within a week to “capture any lessons learned,” in addition to a longer-term review led by Adm. Philip Davidson, head of U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
That investigative team will include officers and enlisted personnel as well as outside experts from the private sector.
Richardson deferred questions on the 10 missing sailors to the 7th Fleet. The Navy is in the midst of search-and-rescue operations.