US Navy suspends sea search efforts for missing USS McCain sailors

SINGAPORE, Aug 24 (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy on Thursday suspended wider search and rescue operations for sailors missing after the warship USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant vessel in waters near Singapore and Malaysia earlier this week.

A statement on the U.S. Seventh Fleet's website confirmed the identities of one sailor killed and of nine sailors still missing following the collision.

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps divers will continue search-and-recovery efforts inside flooded sailors, the statement said. "After more than 80 hours of multinational search efforts, the U.S. Navy suspended search and rescue efforts for missing USS John S. McCain sailors in an approximately 2,100-square mile area east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore," it said.

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The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain arrives at Changi Naval Base in Singapore August 21, 2017 in this handout photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy. U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Personnel work on the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
Personnel work on the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
U.S. Navy personnel are seen onboard guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters in this still frame taken from video August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Reuters TV
Damage is seen on the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain after a collision, in Singapore waters in this still frame taken from video August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Reuters TV
Tanker Alnic MC is seen in Singapore waters after a collision with U.S. Navy USS John S. McCain, August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Christoph Van Der Perre
Personnel work onboard a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
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An international search-and-rescue operation involving aircraft, divers and vessels from the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia had been looking for the missing sailors over an area of about 5,500 square kilometers around the crash site.

The U.S. Navy on Tuesday found remains of missing sailors inside sealed sections of the damaged hull of the John S. McCain, which is moored at Singapore's Changi Naval Base.

Earlier on Thursday, the Navy said a medical examination of human remains found by the Malaysian navy about eight nautical miles northwest of the collision site were not one of its missing sailors.

Singapore's Maritime and Port Authority said the multi-agency search and rescue operation was suspended from 9 p.m. local time on Thursday. Singapore will continue to support the U.S. Navy in their search on the warship, it said.

The pre-dawn collision on Monday was the fourth major accident for the U.S. Pacific Fleet this year and has prompted a review of its operations.

The Navy on Wednesday removed Seventh Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin from his post, citing "a loss of confidence in his ability to command" after the run of accidents. Aucoin had been due to step down next month. Rear Admiral Phil Sawyer takes command of the fleet.

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Military Aircraft Aboard U.S.S. Yorktown with Sailors Performing Exercises, 1943.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

Sailors Watch as Aircraft Takes Off, c. 1943.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

Sailors Aboard U.S.S. Yorktown, c. 1943.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

A man holding his hat, c. 1942-1945.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

Crew with Naval Torpedoes, c. 1943.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

Aircraft Taking Off of Carrier, c. 1943.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

Men Getting in Aircraft, c. 1943.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

Crew Eating, c. 1943.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

Crew reading and writing, c. 1942-1945.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

Sleeping man, c. 1942-1945.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

Raid Against Marcus Island, c. 1943.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

Sailors Aboard U.S.S. Yorktown with Naval Artillery Above, c. 1943.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

Plane Handlers, c. 1943.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

"Got a Light, Mate?", Sailors Working Aboard U.S.S. Yorktown, c. 1943.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

Sailors Playing Instruments, c. 1943.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

Too Much Beer, c. 1943.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

Man and Aircraft, c. 1943.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

U.S. Navy Under American Flag, c. 1943.

(Photo by Fons Iannelli, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

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This week, the U.S. Navy flagged plans for temporary and staggered halts in operations across its global fleet to allow staff to focus on safety.

On Wednesday, Seventh Fleet ships deployed at a facility in Yokosuka, Japan, participated in a one-day operational pause in which officers and crew underwent fresh risk management and communications training.

The Seventh Fleet, headquartered in Japan, operates as many as 70 ships, including the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, and has about 140 aircraft and 20,000 sailors.

(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Writing by Sam Holmes; Editing by Robert Birsel/Mark Heinrich)

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