USS John S. McCain (DDG-56)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

USS John S. McCain (DDG-56)
A gray warship on a blue ocean
USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) underway in January 2003
United States
Name: USS John S. McCain
Namesake: John S. McCain, Sr., John S. McCain, Jr., and John S. McCain III
Ordered: 13 December 1988
Builder: Bath Iron Works
Laid down: 3 September 1991
Launched: 26 September 1992
Sponsored by: Cindy McCain
Commissioned: 2 July 1994
Homeport: Yokosuka, Japan
Motto: Fortune Favors the Brave[1]
Nickname(s): "Big Bad John"[2]
Status: Undergoing repairs after damages sustained on 21 August 2017
Badge: USS John S. McCain DDG-56 Crest.png
General characteristics
Class and type: Arleigh Burke-class destroyer
  • Light: approx. 6,800 long tons (6,900 t)
  • Full: approx. 8,900 long tons (9,000 t)
Length: 505 ft (154 m)
Beam: 66 ft (20 m)
Draft: 31 ft (9.4 m)
Propulsion: 4 General Electric LM2500-30 gas turbines, two shafts, 100,000 total shaft horsepower (75 MW)
Speed: >30 knots (56 km/h)
Sensors and
processing systems:
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Aircraft carried: 2 Sikorsky MH-60R helicopters can be embarked

USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer currently in the service of the United States Navy. She is part of the Destroyer Squadron 15 within the Seventh Fleet, and has her homeport at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan.

The destroyer was involved in a collision with the merchant ship Alnic MC on 21 August 2017 off the coast of Singapore, which resulted in the deaths of ten of her crew, and left another five injured. This event occurred a little over two months after a collision between USS Fitzgerald and MV ACX Crystal resulted in fatalities.


This warship was originally named after John S. McCain, Sr., and John S. McCain, Jr.,[1] both admirals in the United States Navy. John S. McCain, Sr. commanded the aircraft carrier USS Ranger, and later the Fast Carrier Task Force during the latter stages of World War II. John S. McCain, Jr. commanded the submarines USS Gunnel and USS Dentuda during World War II. He subsequently held a number of posts, rising to Commander-in-Chief of the United States Pacific Command, before retiring in 1972. These men were, respectively, the grandfather and father of Senator John S. McCain III.[3]

On 11 July 2018, at a rededication ceremony, Senator John McCain was added as a namesake, along with his father and grandfather.[4]

The ship's nickname is "Big Bad John", and has the motto "Fortune Favors the Brave".[2]


Construction and commissioning[edit]

John S. McCain's keel was laid down on 3 September 1991, at the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. She was launched on 26 September 1992, sponsored by Cindy McCain, the wife of Senator John McCain III, and was commissioned on 2 July 1994, at the Bath Iron Works. The former President of the United States, George H. W. Bush, was the ceremony's principal speaker.[5] The ship was initially assigned a home port of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and shifted to a forward-deploy port in Yokosuka, Japan in 1997.


In January 2003, John S. McCain deployed to the Persian Gulf. She launched 39 Tomahawk missiles in support of the invasion of Iraq and was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for her service. John S. McCain was awarded the Navy Battle E for DESRON 15 in 2003 and again in 2004. On 16 February 2007, John S. McCain was awarded the 2006 Battle Effectiveness Award.[6]

On 11 June 2009, a Chinese submarine reportedly collided with the towed sonar array of John S. McCain near Subic Bay, Philippines. The incident caused damage to the array but was described as an "inadvertent encounter".[7]

In June 2009, John S. McCain pursued the North Korean cargo ship Kang Nam 1 toward Burma in enforcement of the new United Nations resolution of an arms export embargo against North Korea. The vessel was suspected of carrying arms for the Burmese junta government. Kang Nam 1 returned to North Korea without delivering her cargo to Burma.[8]

In July 2009, the destroyer berthed at Yokohama's international passenger terminal on a goodwill tour. The ship was opened to the public on 22 July 2009.[9]


In March 2011, in company with the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, the ship was deployed off northeastern Honshu, Japan to assist with relief efforts after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake.[10][11] During that time, the ship may have been exposed to leaking radiation from the Fukushima I nuclear accidents.[12]

In April 2013, John S. McCain was sent to South Korea during escalating tensions between the Koreas.[13] In June 2014, John S. McCain was sent to Subic Bay to perform in CARAT (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) exercises.

On 2 October 2016, USS John S. McCain and USS Frank Cable made the first port visit by U.S. Navy ships to Cam Ranh Bay since end of the Vietnam War in 1975.[14] In August 2017, John S. McCain sailed within 6 nautical miles (7 mi; 11 km) of Mischief Reef in the South China Sea, exercising a claim to freedom of navigation. China, claiming sovereignty over the reef, expressed its "strong dissatisfaction" in response to the action.[15] A US Navy representative reported that a Chinese frigate had sent at least ten radio messages warning that the John S. McCain was in Chinese waters, to which the US ship replied that it was "conducting routine operations in international waters."[15]

2017 MV Alnic MC collision[edit]

At 5:24 a.m. on 21 August 2017, John S. McCain was involved in a collision with the Liberian-flagged Alnic MC off the coast of Singapore and Malaysia, east of the Strait of Malacca.[3][16][17] According to a United States Navy press release, the breach "resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms."[18] Ten US Navy sailors died as a result of the crash.[19][20][17][21] After the incident, the ship, which sustained damage to her port side aft, was able to sail to Changi Naval Base in Singapore under her own power. The U.S. Navy announced on 24 August 2017 that it had suspended search-and-rescue efforts for survivors in the open sea to focus on the recovery of the remains of the missing sailors still inside the flooded compartments of the ship.[22] By 27 August U.S. Navy and Marine Corps divers had recovered the remains of all 10 sailors.[23]

Investigation of incident[edit]

Immediately after the incident Navy reports suggested a fatigued bridge crew, poor communication between crew members and crowded shipping lanes as the most likely culprits.[24] CNN quoted an unnamed "Navy official" stating that the ship lost steering control shortly before the accident but that "it was unclear why the crew couldn't use the ship's backup steering systems".[16]

The collision was the second such incident in just over two months – the other involved John S. McCain's sister ship USS Fitzgerald and the container ship MV ACX Crystal.[25] On the same day as the collision between John S. McCain and Alnic MC the Pentagon ordered all fleet operations around the world to make a brief "operational pause" for safety checks during the following two weeks, as well as beginning a full safety review.[21] The U.S. 7th Fleet commander at the time of the accident, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, was relieved of his command on 23 August 2017 for "loss of confidence in his ability to command".[26] Rear Admiral Richard Brown was named to lead an internal investigation of the accident.[27] Brown is a former commander of sister ship The Sullivans and currently serves as commander of Naval Personnel Command and deputy chief of Naval Personnel.[28]

On 18 September 2017, the new U.S. 7th Fleet commander, Vice Admiral Phillip Sawyer, as part of the investigations into four surface ship incidents involving Navy ships in the Western Pacific in 2017, including the collision involving the John S. McCain, ordered that Rear Admiral Charles Williams, Commander Task Force 70, and Captain Jeffrey Bennett, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 15, be removed from their positions due to a loss of confidence in their ability to command.[29] On 10 October 2017, the commanding officer Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez and executive officer, Cmdr. Jessie L. Sanchez, were both relieved due to a loss of confidence.[30][31] A statement from U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs stated that "while the investigation is ongoing, it is evident the collision was preventable, the commanding officer exercised poor judgement, and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship’s training program."[30] Commander Ed Angelinas, former commanding officer of USS McCampbell, and Lieutenant Commander Ray Ball, chief engineer of USS Antietam, were appointed acting commanding officer and acting executive officer of the John S. McCain.[30]

The US Navy announced that it was considering criminal charges against the Fitzgerald's commander.[32]

In May 2018, Chief Boatswain's Mate Jeffery Butler, a senior enlisted member in the crew, pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty and was reduced in rank from E-7 to E-6 and Commander Sanchez pleaded guilty to negligence and requested to retire.[33]


On November 1, 2017, the US Navy issued a "Memorandum for distribution".[34] The memorandum defines the legal privilege of such reports, but in the interests of transparency authorizes the release of the two reports covering the USS Fitzgerald and USS John McCain collisions. The two reports are annexed to the memorandum. The reports are intended to be authoritative, but are not balanced; they specifically exclude a detailed examination of the actions of the ACX Crystal and Alnic MC respectively.

On August 20, navigation briefs were prepared for the transit of the Singapore Strait and rudder swing checks were performed. Shortly after midnight, a log entry revealed that one radar was inoperable. After 01:00, more frequent position checks were recorded as the ship approached the straits and the Commanding Officer (CO) was on the bridge. At 02:16, the ship's propulsion configuration was changed. Normally the two propeller shafts are geared together and controlled as one, but for increased maneuverability, they can be separated so that different turbines drive each shaft. At 04:18, the ship changed to "Modified Navigation Detail", in which additional watchstanders were present on the bridge. This was normal for a US Navy ship when approaching within 10 nautical miles (19 km; 12 mi) of shallow water.[35] From 04:27, the position was determined and logged at 5-minute intervals.[36]

At 04:36, the ship switched from automatic to manual control of steering. Various changes of course were required to avoid shipping, but they were not logged. At 04:54, there was radar contact with the Alnic, ahead at a range of under 8 nautical miles (15 km; 9.2 mi). John McCain continued to make small alteration of course to avoid other vessels and by 05:18 was running at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) on a bearing of 230T. To keep this course against a tidal stream, she was carrying between 1 and 4 degrees of right rudder.[36] Shortly thereafter, the CO realized that the helmsman was having difficulty in managing both the helm and the propulsion control and ordered the helm to be transferred to the Lee Helm watch station.[37]

At 05:20:39, control of the helm passed to the Lee Helm position, the change bringing the rudder amidships. At 05:20:47, the Lee Helm also took control of the port engine. At 05:21, the Lee Helm reported that he had lost steering and the Conning Officer ordered steering control to the offline steering units and the aft control position was ordered manned. Port and starboard steering were transferred to the aft position at 05:21:13 and 05:21:15, respectively. At 05:22, the ship was turning to port and the CO ordered the external lights to be changed to "ship not under command", a warning to all vessels that the Navy ship could not control her course.[38]

Over the next minute, the Lee Helm took control of the starboard shaft, not realizing that the port shaft was uncoupled. The CO ordered a reduction in speed, but only the port propeller was slowed, thereby increasing the turn to port. The Executive Officer warned the CO that the ship was not slowing, so the CO ordered a further reduction in speed, increasing the rate of turn. The CO should have announced that he was personally taking control of maneuvering, but failed to do so.[38]

The Conning Officer ordered "right standard rudder" to turn to starboard at 05:23 and a second later the after steering position took control. 15 seconds later, the main Helm position regained control in "Backup manual mode". At 05:23:24, the throttles were finally matched and the ship started to slow.[38]

Three seconds later, the aft helmsman took back control of the steering. The report notes that this was the fifth change of control in two minutes. At 05:23:44, fifteen degrees of rudder was ordered and John McCain finally ceased to turn. Fourteen seconds later, at 05:23:58, the collision occurred.[39]

The ship's user interface was found to have contributed to the sailors' confusion.[40]

At no point did either ship sound a warning signal of five short blasts on the whistle (Colregs rule 34(d)) or attempt to contact the other via VHF radio.[41] The report describes the actions taken in the aftermath of the collision. On page 49 it states that the external lights were changed to "red over red" ("vessel not under command"), but the timeline on page 65 claims that this was done at 05:22, at least a minute before the collision.

The report criticizes John McCain under two headings: "Seamanship and Navigation" and "Leadership and Culture". The former heading mentions that a higher state of readiness was required in congested waters, that the "Sea and Anchor" detail should have been set earlier and that both vessels failed to sound the required signals or use VHF. The latter heading contains criticisms about the ship's organisation. Specifically the CO did not set the Sea and Anchor watch, watchstanders had not attended the navigation brief, leadership failed to assign sufficient experienced officers, the CO issued unplanned orders which were not communicated to the watch officers, who in turn failed to provide input and backup to the CO.[42]

Transport to Yokosuka[edit]

On 6 September 2017, Military Sealift Command awarded a contract to Dockwise, a marine transport company, to move the damaged John S. McCain in late September from Singapore to a US repair facility in Yokosuka, Japan where a damage assessment will be completed.[43] Repairs are expected to take up to a year at an estimated cost of US$230 million.[44][45] She left Singapore on 11 October aboard the heavy transport ship MV Treasure, was diverted to Subic Bay, and left there on 28 November, still bound for Yokosuka.[46][47] As of April 2018, John S. McCain is undergoing drydock repairs at Fleet Activities Yokosuka.[48]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "About our Namesake - John S. McCain". U.S. Navy. Archived from the original on 21 August 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b "7 things about US warship USS John S. McCain or 'Big Bad John'". The Straits Times. 21 August 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  3. ^ a b Flanagan, Ed; Stelloh, Tim (20 August 2017). "Navy Destroyer USS John S. McCain Collides With Merchant Ship East of Singapore". NBC News. Archived from the original on 22 August 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  4. ^ Doornbos, Caitlin (12 July 2018). "McCain joins father and grandfather on ship's list of namesakes". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  5. ^ "USS John S. McCain (DDG 56)". Retrieved 10 September 2008.
  6. ^ Ludwick, Paula M. (19 February 2007). "Surface Force Ships, Crews Earn Battle "E"". U.S. Navy. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  7. ^ Starr, Barbara (12 June 2009). "Sub collides with sonar array towed by U.S. Navy ship". CNN. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  8. ^ Sang-Hun, Choe (21 June 2009). "Test Looms as U.S. Tracks North Korean Ship". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  9. ^ "U.S. destroyer visits Yokohama passenger pier". Japan Times. Kyodo News. 22 July 2009. p. 2.
  10. ^ Rabiroff, John (17 March 2011). "U.S. military delivers 40 tons of supplies to hardest-hit areas". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  11. ^ "Warships Supporting Earthquake in Japan". Seawaves. 22 March 2011. Archived from the original on 23 March 2011.
  12. ^ Stewart, Joshua (14 March 2011). "Navy ships off Japan move to avoid radiation". Military Times. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  13. ^ Miklaszewski, Jim; Kube, Courtney (1 April 2013). "US Navy shifts destroyer in wake of North Korea missile threats". NBC News. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  14. ^ "United States warships make first visit to Vietnam base in decades". South China Morning Post. 4 October 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  15. ^ a b "China protests, challenges US warship near its artificial islands". News Corp Australia. AFP. 11 August 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  16. ^ a b McKirdy, Euan; Lendon, Brad; Sciutto, Jim (22 August 2017). "'Some remains' of missing 10 sailors found after collision, admiral says". CNN. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  17. ^ a b "UPDATE: USS John S. McCain Collides with Merchant Ship". U.S. Navy. 21 August 2017. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  18. ^ Global, IndraStra. "10 U.S. Navy Sailors Missing after USS John S McCain Collides with Oil Tanker". IndraStra. ISSN 2381-3652.
  19. ^ McKirdy, Euan (28 August 2017). "Remains of all 10 missing USS John S. McCain sailors recovered". CNN. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  20. ^ "U.S. Navy identifies 1 dead and 9 missing USS John S. McCain Sailors as search and rescue efforts suspended". Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. U.S. Navy. 24 August 2017. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  21. ^ a b Farrer, Martin; Holmes, Oliver (21 August 2017). "Pentagon orders temporary halt to US navy operations after second collision". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  22. ^ Cohen, Zachary (25 August 2017). "Navy suspends USS John McCain search and rescue efforts". CNN. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  23. ^ Varner, Jesse (28 August 2017). "All remains recovered of 10 sailors from USS John S. McCain collision". U.S. Navy.
  24. ^ "US warship collisions raise cyber attack fears". The Straits Times. 23 August 2017. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  25. ^ Youssef, Nancy A.; Watts, Jake Maxwell (21 August 2017). "Navy to Pause Operations, Review Collisions, With 10 Missing". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  26. ^ Martinez, Peter (22 August 2017). "U.S. Navy to remove commander of 7th Fleet amid latest accidents". CBS News. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  27. ^ LaGrone, Sam (1 September 2017). "Personnel Chief Tapped to Lead USS John S. McCain Investigation; Navy Leaders to Testify on Collisions Before Congress". USNI News. U.S. Naval Institute. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  28. ^ "Rear Admiral Richard A. Brown". U.S. Navy. 26 September 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  29. ^ LaGrone, Sam (18 September 2017). "Admiral, Captain Removed in Ongoing Investigations into USS John S. McCain, USS Fitzgerald Collisions; Head of Surface Forces Puts in Early Retirement Request". USNI News. U.S. Naval Institute. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  30. ^ a b c "USS John S. McCain commanding officer, executive officer relieved". Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. U.S. Navy. 10 October 2017. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  31. ^ Schmitt, Eric (10 October 2017). "2 Top Officers of Navy Ship John S. McCain Are Removed". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  32. ^ US Navy Statement on USS Fitzgerald and USS John S McCain Consolidated Disposition Authority Accountability Actions
  33. ^ Summary of Major Events Since Fatal USS Fitzgerald Collision USNI News. June 20, 2018
  34. ^ Chief of Naval Operations (November 1, 2017), Memorandum for distribution (PDF), Washington: Department of the Navy, retrieved November 2, 2017
  35. ^ Chief of Naval Operations| (2017), p 45
  36. ^ a b Chief of Naval Operations| (2017), p 63
  37. ^ Chief of Naval Operations| (2017), p 64
  38. ^ a b c Chief of Naval Operations| (2017), p 65
  39. ^ Chief of Naval Operations| (2017), p 66
  40. ^ "USS McCain collision ultimately caused by UI confusion". Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  41. ^ Chief of Naval Operations| (2017), p 48
  42. ^ Chief of Naval Operations| (2017), p 60
  43. ^ Harmon, Dwayne (7 September 2017). "Navy to move USS McCain to Japan for damage assessment". Newburgh Gazette. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  44. ^
  45. ^ "Navy Intends to Heavy Lift USS John S McCain (DDG 56) to Yokosuka". U.S. Navy. 6 September 2017. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  46. ^ "USS John S. McCain departs Subic Bay aboard MV Treasure". 28 November 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  47. ^ Maeda, Motoyuki (December 6, 2017). "Damaged USS John S. McCain nears Yokosuka base for repairs". Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  48. ^ Larter, David B. (April 9, 2018). "The Navy's broken ships of 2017 are coming back to life; here's how its going". Defense News. Retrieved April 10, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]