USS John S. McCain transfers from dry dock to pier following collision repairs

Nov. 30 (UPI) — The USS John S. McCain was launched from dry dock and moored pier-side in Yokosuka, Japan, to continue repairs following a collision last year that killed 10 sailors.

Until Tuesday, the McCain had been in dry dock at the Navy’s Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center in Yokosuka since February. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer McCain collided with civilian cargo ship Alnic MC near Singapore in August 2017.

Workers from General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, which constructed the ship, were heavily involved in the repairs, the Navy said. Those workers were joined by Japanese personnel from contractor Sumitomo Heavy Industries.

The McCain received modernization upgrades and routine re-fits along with repairs of damage from the collision, including a restored hull, port thrust shaft and berthing spaces, the Navy said.

The Navy said in a statement that it deferred maintenance until the collision was also being taken care of during the docking as part of a readiness initiative for ships deployed with 7th Fleet.

Pier-side repairs will continue as systems are reactivated, the Navy said.

The collision in 2017 was the Navy’s second fatal wreck in about two months after the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Filipino cargo ship, killing seven, that June. The 7th Fleet’s commanding admiral and several other officers were relieved for dereliction of duty, amid questions of whether the U.S. surface combatant fleet was properly trained.

The USS John S. McCain is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, as part of the U.S. 7th Fleet. The ship is expected to complete repairs in late 2019.

In a Seapower subcommittee hearing Nov. 27, several U.S. senators questioned why it has taken 15 months to repair the USS John S. McCain due to its importance as a advance surface combatant and ballistic missile defense asset.

At the hearing, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James Geurts blamed a combination of factors, including major repairs beyond expectations and modernization efforts that were conducted. He said that shipyard wait times were a significant part of it, as well.

Deputy Chief of Operations for Warfare Systems Vice Admiral William Merz also testified that the McCain “was a mess, and took a lot to repair.”

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