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U.S. and Liberian vessels collide in early morning hours

Every New York seaman aboard a vessel on the ocean should be aware of safety procedures, understanding that these can be different at night. Vessels respond to hazards following protocols based on the size, weight and other factors, as well. Regardless of the conditions, rigorous attention to duties is essential to prevent those on board from being harmed. 

The USS John S. McCain was recently involved in a collision with the Alnic MC, an oil tanker registered under a Liberian flag. It was near dawn when the accident between the merchant vessel and the guided-missile destroyer occurred. Details of the accident are still under investigation. However, experts note that many cargo vessels operate on autopilot, a function that can be time-consuming and expensive to turn off. On Navy ships, sailors most likely to be performing duty at that time of night are often younger officers. It is not known whether either of these factors may have come into play in this accident.

The ships were near the Strait of Malacca, which is a highly congested area off the coast of Singapore. Both vessels are being assessed for damage and repairs in Singapore. While no crew members on the Alnic MC were injured, five sailors from the John S. McCain sustained injuries, and 10 others are not yet accounted for. The area of the ship that was damaged included flooding to communications and machinery rooms, as well as those containing crew berths.

Often, a combination of circumstances may lead to tragic events on vessels. Seamen who are injured in the course of duty may seek the advice of an attorney regarding whether compensation may be due.

Source: The New York Times, "10 Missing After U.S. Navy Ship and Oil Tanker Collide Off Singapore," Hannah Beech and Matthew Haag, Aug. 20, 2017

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