- The Washington Times - Monday, August 28, 2017

The Navy has recovered remains of all 10 missing sailors from the USS McCain collision, the Pentagon confirmed Monday, as the sea service continues its fleet-wide inquiry into why Navy warships have been involved in two fatal crashes in as many months while deployed in the Pacific.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the USS John S. McCain and the USS Fitzgerald,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning told reporters Monday, referencing the two U.S. warships attached to the Navy’s Seventh Fleet that were involved in the deadly collisions.

The incident involving the USS McCain, which took place early Monday morning in the Straits of Malacca off Singapore and Malaysia’s coastal waters, was the second mid-sea collision in two months between American warships attached to Seventh Fleet and commercial vessels traversing the international waters in the south Pacific.

The remains USS McCain crew members Petty Officers 1st Class Charles Findley and Abraham Lopez, along with Petty Officers 2nd Class Kevin Bushell, Jacob Drake, Timothy Eckels Jr. and Corey Ingram were retrieved during by Navy and Marine Corps divers, the Pentagon confirmed. The bodies of Petty Officers 3rd Class John Hoagland III and Logan Palmer were also recovered in the waters off the Singaporean coast near the collision site.

Search and rescue operations by the U.S., Indonesian, Singaporean and Malayan navies for the 10 missing sailors from the USS McCaiwere called off late last week, with Navy officials announced Sunday that the America had wrapped up support operations for the Navy warship and were returning to its scheduled missions.

The accident prompted a two-day pause in all Navy operations worldwide and eventual ouster of Seventh Fleet commander Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin in the wake of the sea service’s ongoing inquiry. Navy leaders fired the captain of the USS Fitzgerald and disciplined several of the ship’s senior officers after the warship collided with Philippine-flagged shipping vessel near the Japanese coast in June.

Chief Naval Officer Adm. John Richardson last week announced the sea service was initiating two major fleet-wide inquiries into both incidents. The four-star admiral acknowledged Wednesday that Navy investigators had no evidence the accident was the result of a cyber attack on the Navy vessel.

“We have no evidence to date that there has been any kind of a cyber intrusion, or a cyber attack. But I do want to make clear that you know in this digital world that we live in right now this will be a more routine part of investigations going forward,” Mr. Richardson said on CNN. “We’re going to have to as a matter of course investigate the digital and the cyber aspects of these problems.”

Navy leaders had suspected the navigation systems aboard a pair of patrol boats operating in the Straits of Hormus in January had been compromised, leading the Navy crews aboard those vessels to stray into Iranian waters, leading to their capture and brief detention by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The USS McCain had been en route to Singapore after carrying out freedom of navigation operations in the hotly contested South China Sea, when it collided with the Alnic MC oil tanker. The collision reportedly tore a 600-foot hole in the U.S. warship’s hull, flooding the ship’s machine and communications rooms as well as berthing rooms for the USS McCain’s crew, The Associated Press reported at the time.

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