Pentagon Chief Confirms Navy Will Probe Pacific Accidents

SINGAPORE (AP) -
U.S Navy’s USS America, which is supporting ongoing search for missing crew members of USS John McCain, is seen in Singapore waters, Monday. (Ariffin Jamar/The Straits Times via Reuters)

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis confirmed that the Navy will conduct a broad investigation into the collision in Southeast Asia between the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker, and other recent Navy accidents at sea.

Mattis told reporters traveling with him in Jordan that he’s sent condolences to families of sailors on the guided missile destroyer. It’s the second crash involving a ship from U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet in the Pacific in two months.

Ten sailors are missing and a search is underway.

Mattis said that the Navy is putting together a “broader inquiry” that also looks at the USS Fitzgerald accident in waters off Japan in June. Seven sailors died in that accident.

A defense official said that Navy Adm. John Richardson — the chief of naval operations — has directed Adm. Phil Davidson to lead the investigation. Davidson heads the Navy’s Fleet Forces.

The official says Richardson wants to ensure there aren’t bigger problems that may be masked by the high pace of ship operations in the Pacific region.