USS America (LHA 6) and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit departed Singapore after supporting the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) Aug. 27. America will continue on its maiden deployment.
While in Singapore, Sailors and Marines aboard America provided initial support for the McCain crew to include berthing for 155 Sailors, daily supplies, counseling, medical/dental services and communications network support. Additionally, America’s Sailors assisted with damage control efforts by providing watchstanders and additional equipment.
“I was glad to help out our fellow shipmates,” said Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) (Select) Brad Cooper. “We jumped on it immediately to make McCain Sailors feel as comfortable as possible.”
With America’s departure McCain Sailors will continue to receive all necessary support from the American military community in Singapore. This support includes: lodging, meals, new uniforms, transportation, counseling services, Wi-Fi access; and a call center for Sailors to continue communicating with their families.
Upon notification of the collision Aug. 21, America immediately deployed MV-22B Ospreys and MH-60S Sea Hawks for search and rescue (SAR) operations with embarked Amphibious Squadron (CPR) 3 leading the efforts as the on-scene commander. Through coordination with Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia, the search continued for more than more than 80 hours and spanned an approximately 2,100-square mile area.
“It was impressive to see these nations come together and provide their unrelenting support,” said Cmdr. Michael “Farva” Margolius, officer in charge of embarked Tactical Air Control Squadron 11 Detachment 1. “The around-the-clock coordination showed the true resolve of our partnership with these countries.”
The 15th MEU’s Marine Aviation Combat Element and America’s embarked helicopter squadron, Helicopter Combat Squadron 23 flew 17 sorties for a combined 68.5 hours in support of SAR operations.
“This is what we train for; this is what we do,” said Capt. Ramon Bernd, a pilot assigned to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced), who assisted in the search-and-rescue operations. “Even in tragic situations such as those that have happened to the John S. McCain, we will do everything in our scope to assist.”
Additionally, the 15th MEU’s Force Reconnaissance Detachment assisted diving operations with eight Marines and three Sailors working both topside and in the water. Some of those divers will stay behind to continue helping with search and recovery efforts.
“I’m grateful that America Sailors and Marines of the 15th MEU were able to assist the crew of USS John S. McCain,” said Capt. Joseph Olson, America’s commanding officer. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the crew and their families during this challenging time.”
McCain was involved in a collision with the Liberian-flagged merchant vessel Alnic MC in an area east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, Aug. 21.
America is the flagship of the America ARG, and with the embarked 15th MEU and Amphibious Squadron 3, is currently conducting maritime security operations and supporting theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.