Bodies of some of the 10 missing US sailors found after collision off Singapore

Divers were able to locate some remains in flooded ship compartments.

ByABC News
August 22, 2017, 8:55 PM

— -- Bodies of some of the 10 missing sailors have been found in flooded compartments of the USS John S. McCain, a Navy destroyer that collided with a commercial vessel east of Singapore early Monday morning, the U.S. Navy said.

Ten sailors have been missing since the collision, and the remains of some were found by divers performing recovery operations inside the ship, Adm. Scott Swift, the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a statement.

Remains that may belong to another sailor missing from the McCain were found by the Royal Malaysian Navy as it assisted the U.S. in waters east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, Swift said.

"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of those sailors and the families of our sailors who were injured," he said in the statement, issued from Singapore's Changi Naval Base today, where the damaged USS McCain is docked and where the tanker that it collided with is anchored. "The search-and-rescue efforts continue."

One of the missing sailors was identified by government officials as Ohio resident Jacob Drake.

Drake's cousin, Brandie Roberts, told ABC News that he joined the Navy right out of high school at 17 years old.

Roberts described her cousin as a "hilarious" and "ridiculously smart" person.

"We are all begging for answers and begging he is found safe," she said.

PHOTO: Ohio resident Drake Jacob was identified as one of the ten sailors missing after the USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant ship off the east coast of Singapore, Aug. 21, 2017.
Ohio resident Drake Jacob was identified as one of the ten sailors missing after the USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant ship off the east coast of Singapore, Aug. 21, 2017.

Drake is engaged, Roberts said. He has plans to marry next summer, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

In a statement, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, offered his support to Drake's family and the U.S. Navy.

"Connie and I are thinking of Jacob’s family during this horrible time and we join Ohioans in praying for Jacob’s well-being and safety," Brown said. "Servicemembers like Jacob represent the very best of our state, and I’m hopeful the divers searching for these brave sailors can find him and bring him home safely."

Ohio Gov. John Kasich wrote on Twitter that he is "praying for all, especially Ohio's own Jacob Drake."

Collision followed by flooding

The McCain was heading to Singapore on a routine port visit after conducting a sensitive freedom-of-navigation operation near one of China's man-made islands in the South China Sea, according to the Navy.

The destroyer collided with a tanker vessel, the Alnic MC, off the coast of Singapore around 5:20 a.m. local time Monday, the Stealth Maritime Corp. said in a statement.

Reports of the damage to the two ships seem to indicate that they were crossing paths or at least attempting to move in different directions at the time of the collision.

The McCain's hull received significant damage as a result of the collision, according to the Navy. Photos show what looks like a wide cave on the port side of the ship at the water line.

An initial report about the collision indicated that the ship reported a loss of steering three minutes prior to the impact, a U.S. official said. The official notes this was an initial report, and that it’s not clear if this is what led to the collision, as the crew could have taken several evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision -- something crews are trained to deal with.

After the collision, adjacent compartments on the McCain —- including crew berth, machinery and communications rooms —- flooded, according to the Navy, which added that a damage-control response prevented the situation from becoming more serious.

Ships from multiple countries searched for the missing sailors after the collision.

President Trump tweeted that his "thoughts and prayers" are with the McCain's sailors.

Several politicians on both sides of the aisle echoed his sentiment, including Sen. John McCain. The ship is named for his grandfather John Sidney McCain Sr. and his father, John Sidney McCain Jr.

"Cindy and I are keeping America's sailors aboard the USS John S McCain in our prayers tonight -- appreciate the work of search & rescue crews," McCain wrote in a tweet.

Call for an operational pause

The collision was hardly an isolated incident for the Navy.

It comes only two months after the USS Fitzgerald's collision with a Philippine container ship in the middle of the night off the coast of Japan. Seven U.S. sailors lost their lives in that collision, and last week the Navy relieved the Fitzgerald's commanding officer, executive officer and senior enlisted sailor for mistakes that led to the crash.

The USS Lake Champlain, a guided missile cruiser, collided with a fishing boat in the Sea of Japan in May. There were no injuries from that crash. The Navy ship tried to alert the fishing boat before the collision, but it was too late.

The USS Antietam, also a guided-missile cruiser, ran aground off the coast of Japan in February, damaging its propellers and spilling oil into the water.

John Richardson, the Navy's top admiral, called for an operational pause in the region and "a deeper look into how we train and certify forces operating in and around Japan," after the McCain's collision.

"We'll examine the process in which we train and certify our forces that are deployed in Japan to make sure we're doing all we can to make them ready for operations and war fighting," he told reporters.

"This will include but not be limited to looking at operational tempo, trends in personnel, material, maintenance and equipment. It will also include a review of how we train and certify our service warfare community, including tactical and navigational proficiency," he said yesterday at a press conference.

ABC News' Lucien Bruggeman, Luis Martinez, Ben Gittleson and Marcus Mewborn contributed to this report.

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