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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion
US destroyer is also eclipsed
    2017-August-28  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Winton Dong

dht0620@126.com

WHILE President Donald Trump and many emotional American astronomy fans were enjoying a rare total solar eclipse that swept across North America for the first time in nearly a century last Monday, a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer, the USS John S. McCain, collided with a commercial vessel named the Alnic MC east of the Straits of Malacca early in the morning that day.

Ten sailors were missing and five others injured in the collision. U.S. military helicopters as well as Singapore’s coast guards launched search and rescue efforts. Malaysia also joined the joint rescue operation.

The McCain is the fourth U.S. Navy vessel to be involved in an accident this year. In January, the USS Antietam ran aground, dumping 1,100 gallons of hydraulic fluid into Tokyo Bay. On May 9, guided-missile ship the USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing boat off the Korean Peninsula.

In mid-June, the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine container vessel ACX Crystal, claiming the lives of seven U.S. sailors, injuring three others and damaging both ships.

Since all four of the collided military vessels, including the McCain and the Fitzgerald, belong to the 7th Fleet of the U.S. Navy, which is based in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture, 50 km southwest of Tokyo, the U.S. Navy relieved fleet commander Vice-Admiral Joseph Aucoin of his duty. U.S. Navy Admiral John Richardson has also ordered all the country’s fleets across the world to have one or two days off this week to review their procedures and training to make sure they are operating safely.

Initial reports indicated that the McCain sustained serious damage to its port side. The impact tore a large hole in the warship and resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew sleeping areas, machinery and communication rooms.

The Liberian-flagged Alnic MC was carrying 12,000 tons of fuel oil when it collided with the McCain, and it is fortunate that no oil spill has been detected so far. As we all know, it is very hard for a 30,000-tonnage vessel as heavy as the Alnic MC to change directions on the sea. However, the much smaller destroyer McCain, with a displacement of only 8,300 metric tons, should be more agile and flexible allowing for it to evade such an accident. Furthermore, the U.S. warship is equipped with the world’s most advanced radar and electronic tracking system, and aided by Navy crew members on constant watch.

While praying and hoping for good news about the missing sailors, we also want to know the reason why U.S. warships collide so frequently in the South China Sea. Despite the fact that the investigation is still ongoing for the latest mishap, we may find some clues by tracking the trail of the destroyer McCain during the past weeks.

According to an anonymous U.S. official, the McCain was performing a close-up surveillance and military survey of the South China Sea on Aug. 10. On its way back to Singapore’s Changi Naval Base on Aug. 19, many photos of U.S. sailors fishing, playing cards and games on the deck were published on the McCain’s official Facebook page. Two days later, the destroyer collided with the commercial vessel off the Singapore coast. It is still not sure whether negligence is the cause of the accident, but the sloppiness of American crews is obvious and already a serious problem.

The Chinese Government voiced concerns about threats and hidden risks to navigation safety in the South China Sea and related waters after a series of U.S. warship collisions in 2017. China hopes that the missing personnel are in good condition and the issue can be properly handled, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

The South China Sea has been an integral part of China for centuries. In the name of “Navigation Freedom,” U.S. warships have frequently intruded into Chinese territorial waters in the South China Sea during the past years. The American intention is very clear. More than 10,000 kilometers away from the Asian waters, the United States should not be concerned about freedom of navigation there.

The real issue is its inability to tolerate any challenge to its supremacy in Asia. Moreover, there is no denying the fact that the frequent activities by U.S. military vessels in the Asia-Pacific regions have not only fatigued its own Navy soldiers, but also posed great threats to commercial transportation in the Straits of Malacca, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

(The author is the editor-in-chief of the Shenzhen Daily with a Ph.D. from the Journalism and Communication School of Wuhan University.)

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