Ships and aircraft from five nations had launched a huge search at sea after the McCain’s pre-dawn collision with an oil tanker east of Singapore on Aug. 21. But the bodies of the 10 men were recovered in the destroyer’s crushed and flooded compartments.
The interior of the destroyer was so heavily damaged that it took days to locate the bodies.
At least 20 divers from the Navy and the United States Marine Corps were involved in the recovery effort and used hydraulic cutters and other equipment to gain access to the compartments where the men died.
They were able to reach the area by entering the ship through the hole in its port side that was left by the collision.
The McCain was headed to Singapore for a routine visit when it collided with the Alnic MC, a chemical and oil tanker about three times the size of the guided-missile destroyer.
The collision occurred as the McCain was preparing to enter the Singapore Strait, one of the world’s most congested waterways.
The incident was similar to a collision in June between another Navy destroyer, the Fitzgerald, and a cargo ship near Japan. Seven sailors initially went missing in that collision and their bodies were later found in flooded berthing compartments of the Fitzgerald.
After the most recent incident, the Navy removed the commander of the Seventh Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, saying it had lost confidence in his leadership. The collision also prompted the Navy to conduct a one-day global review of its safety and operational procedures last week.
The Navy has promised a thorough investigation of the McCain and Fitzgerald collisions.