×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
August 20, 2017

About two hours after a Liberian-flagged oil tanker, Alnic MC, collided with the U.S. Navy destroyer USS John S. McCain at 5:24 p.m U.S. East Coast time in the Strait of Malacca off Singapore, President Trump tweeted that he was on his way back to Washington "after working hard" during his 17-day vacation at his New Jersey golf resort and other locations. The Navy, which announced the accident on Twitter a few minutes after Trump's tweet, said that 10 sailors are missing and five injured, and a search-and-rescue operation is underway. "Our first priority is determining the safety of the ship and crew," tweeted Adm. John Richardson, the chief of U.S. naval operations. "As more information is learned, we will share it."

On Sunday night, Trump tweeted out his "thoughts and prayers" to the sailors on the destroyer, which was damaged on the rear port side but is reportedly heading toward Singapore under its own power.

Earlier, when he arrived at the White House, reporters asked Trump about the accident. "That's too bad," Trump said.

The Strait of Malacca, connecting the Indian and Pacific Oceans, is often congested with shipping traffic, but analysts said the Navy should be concerned about the second collision in two months involving an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the 7th Fleet. Just last week, the Navy disciplined several officers for a deadly June collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a much larger container ship off Japan; seven U.S. sailors died. "They were already stretched after the Fitzgerald collision, and now they've lost a second frontline destroyer at an acute time in the region, with the tensions around North Korea and in the South China Sea," Euan Graham at Sydney's Lowy Institute tells The Washington Post.

In February, another guided-missile cruiser in the 7th Fleet, the Antietam, ran aground in Tokyo Bay near the fleet's base at Yokosuka, Japan, and in May, the Navy cruiser Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel, with no injuries, The New York Times notes. Peter Weber