SINGAPORE-- US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift said US Marine Corps divers have uncovered remains in sealed compartments of the USS John S McCain, following the collision between the US warship and an oil tanker in Singapore's waters on Monday (Aug 21) that left 10 sailors missing and another five injured.
Speaking at a news conference at Changi Naval Base Tuesday, Adm Swift said it is too early to tell how many bodies were found in the damaged US Navy destroyer.
"We have discovered other bodies during the diving on McCain today, but it's premature to say how many and what the status of recovery of those bodies is," he said.
The US Navy is also in the process of identifying a body reported by the Malaysian Navy to see if it is one of the 10 missing sailors, he said.
"We're in the process of affecting the transfer of that body so we can start the identification process and determine whether it's one of the missing sailors or not," Adm Swift said.
The Royal Malaysian Navy said the body was found by crew on the KD Handalan, 7.5 nautical miles northwest from the collision site. The body was brought on board the KD Lekiu and will be handed over to US officials once it is identified, it added.
Adm Swift also said he visited the injured sailors at Singapore General Hospital earlier in the afternoon and added that they are "doing well".
In a statement released on Wednesday, the White House said that its "thoughts and prayers" were with the families and friends of the fallen sailors.
"As the Navy begins the process of recovering our fallen sailors, our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and friends," the statement said. "We are grateful for the rescue and recovery efforts of the officers and crew of the USS John S McCain, the Malaysian Coast Guard, Royal Malaysian Navy, and Republic of Singapore Navy."
It added that the department of defense would conduct a "thorough and complete investigation of the incident".
Asked what might have caused the collision, Adm Swift said he preferred not to comment on any specifics as the investigation is "in its very earliest stages".
"I have heard of reports of potential cyber attacks � we've seen no indications of that as of yet," he said. "We are not taking the scenario off the table and every scenario will be reviewed in detail."
When asked about the possibility of human error, he added that it is "very premature to jump to any conclusions". "The danger in doing that is that we'll miss something that is significant. But all of those questions will be part of those investigations."
This is the second time in two months that a US guided-missile destroyer has been involved in a collision in the region. In June, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine container ship off the coast of Japan. Seven navy sailors were killed.
The US Navy on Monday announced a fleet-wide global investigation after this latest incident.
The collision between the McCain and the merchant vessel Alnic MC occurred in the early hours of Monday while the warship was heading to Singapore for a routine port call.
The warship sustained "significant damage to the hull" in the collision, resulting in flooding to nearby compartments including crew berthing, machinery and communications rooms, the US Navy said. It arrived at Changi Naval Base on Monday afternoon.
On Monday evening, amphibious assault ship USS America also arrived at Changi Naval Base to support search operations. Currently moored across the pier from the McCain, it will provide messing and berthing services to the crew members of the damaged warship, as well as support damage control efforts, the US Navy said.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK