US, Sailors and Families Sue Tanker Owner Over McCain Collision

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The guided-missile destroyer John S. McCain (DDG 56) is shown moored at Changi Naval Base, Singapore, following a collision with a merchant vessel while underway on Aug. 21, 2017. (Grady T. Fontana/Navy)
The guided-missile destroyer John S. McCain (DDG 56) is shown moored at Changi Naval Base, Singapore, following a collision with a merchant vessel while underway on Aug. 21, 2017. (Grady T. Fontana/Navy)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan -- The U.S. government, Navy sailors and victims' families are seeking more than $66.5 million in damages from the owners of an oil tanker involved in a fatal collision with an American warship last year.

Ten sailors aboard the Yokosuka-based USS John S. McCain were killed and others injured in the Aug. 21, 2017, collision with the Alnic MC oil tanker off the coast of Singapore.

Energetic Tank Inc., which owns the tanker, filed suit in February asking a federal court in New York to relieve it of liability in lawsuits resulting from the crash.

Citing a Navy report and the discipline and prosecution of several Navy leaders for the crash, the Liberian company stated in its claim that the accident was "not due to any fault, neglect or want of care" of the Alnic.

Now 42 parties, including the families of the 10 McCain sailors killed, have filed counter claims against the company totaling more than $66.5 million for personal injury, wrongful death and property damage.

The parties argue that Energetic Tank is liable for the accident, which happened when the McCain sailed into the path of the Alnic in waters east of the Strait of Malacca.

After confusion over shifting speed and steering control, the destroyer veered left and crossed in front of the tanker, which ran into the McCain, according to a Navy report.

Court documents describe the horrors experienced by survivors of the crash.

An attorney for enlisted McCain sailor Kerrington Harvey – an operations specialist of unknown rank who is asking for $10 million in damages including medical expenses, pain and suffering and loss of earnings – said, in the documents, that Harvey "endured extreme hardship in saving his life and participating in attempts to save and aid his fellow sailors."

"[Harvey] was thrown to the deck, covered within debris, water and oil, suffered severe injuries, witnessed death, injury and destruction [and] was in grave fear of his own life ending," the attorney said in the documents.

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