A US naval destroyer that lost 10 of its crew when it sailed into the path of an oncoming oil tanker has returned to the waters of its Japanese home base.
Following the incident, the warship was towed into port in Singapore. Bound for Japan for repair aboard a heavy-lift vessel, USS McCain’s hull cracked and the vessel detoured to the Philippines in October 2017.
Arriving back in Japan in January 2017, the guided-missile destroyer spent 11 months in the US Naval Ship Repair Facility in Yokosuka.
A US military report on the incident cited the warship’s “sudden turn” and “confusion among watch-standers” that “led to a loss of steering control”, at which point “the destroyer crossed into the tanker's path” leading to the collision.
“The impact crumpled a berthing area and caused heavy flooding,” according to the military publication.
The collision was the second fatal accident involving a US destroyer in 2017. US Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald – also homeported in Yokosuka – collided with NYK Line-chartered container ship ACX Crystal on 17 June 2017, just south of Japan, killing seven sailors.
The destroyer is undergoing repairs at the Ingalls Shipbuilding yard in Pascagoula, Mississippi in the US.
Local marine traffic control authorities reported that both US destroyers were sailing without broadcasting their AIS locating beacons at the time of the collisions.
The controversial military practice, known as ‘going dark’, was reportedly in effect when a tanker collided with a Norwegian frigate earlier this month in Norway.
According to the US military, during a rededication ceremony in July 2018, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer told reporters that he expected USS McCain to return to sea early next year.
"I think we're looking at spring of 2019 to get her underway with trials and make sure she's good to go, and then head out to the fleet," Mr Spencer said.