A top U.S. Navy admiral, John Richardson has called for a swift and thorough investigation into Monday’s collision of the USS John S. McCain with an oil tanker near Singapore, marking the second deadly mishap that occurred in the Pacific in the past three months.
Richardson ordered an operational pause in all the fleets around the world while the Navy works to determine the factors behind the collision.
Richardson tweeted that the Navy will conduct a wide investigation, including a review into the possibility of “cyber intrusion or sabotage.”
Adm. Phil Davidson, the head of the Navy’s Fleet Forces, will lead the investigation.
Richardson made clear that there is no evidence of a hacking at this point, but some cyber experts have raised the possibility given the location of the warships.
Jeff Stutzman, an ex-information warfare specialist in the Navy who works at a cyber threat intelligence company, told McClatchy that “there’s something more than just human error going on.”
“When you are going through the Strait of Malacca, you can’t tell me that a Navy destroyer doesn’t have a full navigation team going with full lookouts on every wing and extra people on radar,” he said.
Richardson called for a review of the 7th Fleet’s maintenance, personnel and equipment in the region.
He called on a new focus on surface warfare training, which includes tactical and navigational proficiency.
The USS John S. McCain suffered “significant damage” to its hull after a collision with an oil tanker on Monday near Singapore.
The 7th Fleet said in a statement that damage to the guided missile destroyers’ hull flooded nearby compartments including crew berths, machinery and communications rooms.
Ten sailors are missing and four were hospitalized in Singapore with injuries after being evacuated by helicopter. A multinational search and rescue effort involving Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the U.S. is underway.
On June 17, the USS Fitzgerald was badly damaged in the collision off the coast of Japan. The waters off Japan are considered congested and considered to be challenging to navigate.
The seas were relatively calm, and visibility was unrestricted. The bow of the container ship, the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal, slammed into the Fitzgerald’s right side above the waterline, quickly flooding several areas inside the ship, including a berthing, or sleeping, area.