Divers from Camp Pendleton’s 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived in Singapore Thursday to help search for the remains of nine sailors still missing following a collision earlier this week between the USS John S. McCain and the oil tanker Alnic MC in the South China Sea, the Navy said.
Ten sailors in total went missing when the McCain, a 505-foot guided- missile destroyer, crashed early Monday with the 600-foot oil tanker. Divers found the body of one of the sailors earlier this week in a sealed, flooded compartment aboard the ship, officials said. That sailor and the nine still missing were identified Thursday.
Navy officials said the rescue and recovery mission is now focused only on recovery and have suspended a search effort in the ocean near the crash site after it was determined human remains found in the water by the Royal Malaysian Navy on Tuesday were not those of a McCain sailor. Helicopters from the San Diego-based USS America had aided in that search since just hours after the collision.
As for the Camp Pendleton Marine divers, they’ll join Navy divers Thursday to “continue search and recovery efforts inside flooded compartments in the ship for the missing sailors,” the Navy said.
The sailor whose body was found was identified Thursday as Electronics Technician 3rd Class Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, from Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Those still missing were identified as Electronics Technician 1st Class Charles Nathan Findley, 31, from Amazonia, Missouri; Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Abraham Lopez, 39, from El Paso, Texas; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, from Gaithersburg, Maryland; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jacob Daniel Drake, 21, from Cable, Ohio; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23, from Manchester, Maryland; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Corey George Ingram, 28, from Poughkeepsie, New York; Electronics Technician 3rd Class Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, from Suffield, Connecticut; Electronics Technician 3rd Class John Henry Hoagland III, 20, from Killeen, Texas; and Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Logan Stephen Palmer, 23, from Decatur, Illinois.
In a photo released by the Navy’s 7th Fleet, Eckles Jr. wore a San Diego Padres baseball cap, but it wasn’t immediately clear if the Baltimore-area native had any connection to San Diego.
Earlier this week, the commanding officer of the McCain’s Pacific-based 7th Fleet was dismissed “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.” That decision was also influenced by the fatal collision in June involving the USS Fitzgerald, in which two San Diego-area sailors were killed.
An investigation into the Fitzgerald collision resulted in the ship’s top commanders being relieved of duty, and Navy officials announced Monday they’d ordered an operational pause and would launch a wider-ranging review to examine its operations around the world.
“This trend demands more forceful action,” Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, said Monday. “As such, I’ve directed an operational pause be taken in all of our fleets around the world. In addition to that operational pause, I’ve directed a comprehensive review to get at the contributing factors — the root causes — of these incidents.”
—City News Service
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: