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Collision-Damaged U.S. Destroyer Reaches Singapore

November 13, 1989

SINGAPORE (AP) _ A U.S. Navy destroyer that collided with a Panama-registered freighter, killing one crewman and injuring five others, reached Singapore waters Monday.

The destroyer Kincaid sailed through the Strait of Malacca under its own power and was met by tugs to escort it to the Sembawang Shipyard for emergency repairs.

The officer killed in the collision early Sunday was identified as Lt. Sean Michael McPhee, 24, a navigator, said Cmdr. David Dillon, spokesman for the Naval Surface Force in San Diego, where the destroyer is based.

He did not release McPhee’s hometown nor the names of the injured, pending notification of their families.

At Subic Bay in the Philippines, 7th Fleet spokesman Lt. Joe Gradisher said none was seriously hurt.

The Navy said the Kincaid has a crew of 20 officers and 297 enlisted men.

It was the latest in a series of accidents involving U.S. Navy vessels the past two weeks.

The Kinkaid was en route from the Indian Ocean for a scheduled port call in Singapore when it collided with the 430-foot freighter Kota Petani in the Malacca Strait, 240 miles northwest of this island-republic. The busy strait runs between the Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Lt. Cmdr. Bob Anderson, a spokesman for the Pacific Fleet headquarters at Pearl Harbor, said the accident tore a 15-by-56-foot hole above the waterline on the right side of the destroyer.

The 13,687-ton Kota Petani sustained major damage to its port bow but no injuries were reported aboard the freighter. It is owned by St. Vincent Grenadies of Panama and managed by Pacific International Lines (PIL) of Singapore. A PIL executive said the ship left Singapore last week with cargo for the Middle East.

Fires broke out on both ships and were quickly extinguished with help from the USS Rentz, a guided-missile frigate accompanying the Kinkaid. The Kinkaid and the Rentz were detached on Nov. 5 from the U.S. Navy Middle East Force in the Persian Gulf after a three-month deployment, according to records kept by The AP at Bahrain.

Richard M.D. Gong, director of the U.S. Information Service here said an investigation is underway into the cause of the collision. The PIL executive said his company planned its own investigation.

Anderson said the five U.S. Navy shipboard accidents the past two weeks were just bad luck.

″It’s really an inherited danger in working on a warship, but we don’t feel it’s a training problem and these accidents are totally unrelated to each other, and it’s just unfortunate,″ he said.

On Oct. 29, a training jet crashed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lexington in the Gulf of Mexico, killing the pilot and four sailors on the ship. The next day a sailor fell off the carrier USS Carl Vinson north of Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean and was presumed lost, and an FA-18 pilot dropped a 500-pound bomb on the guided missile cruiser USS Reeves in the Indian Ocean, injuring five sailors and blowing a small hole in the bow.

On Oct. 31, three sailors and $4 million worth of non-nuclear missiles were swept by a wave from the carrier USS Eisenhower near Cape Hatteras, N.C. One sailor was missing and presumed dead.

The next day, nine sailors suffered smoke inhalation and four of those were treated for burns after a boiler fire aboard the USS Monongahela west of Gibraltar.

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