November 15, 2019
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Bath Iron Works stands ready to help repair second Maine-built destroyer damaged at sea

Bath Iron Works | BDN
Bath Iron Works | BDN
General Dynamics Bath Iron Works on Monday posted this message about the Bath Iron Works-built USS John McCain, which earlier Monday collided with an oil tanker three times its size off the Strait of Malacca.

A Bath Iron Works spokesman said Monday that several shipyard employees are stationed at Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, the homeport of the USS John S. McCain, but that it remains unclear whether they will be involved in repairing the Bath-built Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.

The McCain, or DDG 56, was launched in Bath in September 1992 and commissioned two years later.

Earlier Monday, the McCain collided with an oil tanker three times its size off the Straits of Malacca. Ten sailors remained missing Monday afternoon. As of Monday afternoon, the destroyer remained in Singapore.

As the planning yard for the Arleigh Burke class destroyers, BIW employees in Yokosuka remain at the base to oversee routine maintenance on ships.

“Our hearts go out to the sailors on board USS John S. McCain and our thoughts are with their families during this difficult time,” Bath Iron Works, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, posted on its Facebook page Monday morning.

Kara Yingling of the Navy’s Chief of Information Office said Monday that the Navy continues to investigate the cause of the collision, which follows by two months the collision of a Philippine container ship with the USS Fitzgerald, also a Bath-built Arleigh Burke. The Navy will suspend destroyer operations in the Pacific for at least a day as leaders review procedures in the hopes of preventing future collisions.

The Fitzgerald was launched from the Bath shipyard two years after the McCain, in 1994.

In June, retired test electrician Dan Dowling credited the quality of the Bath-built Fitzgerald with withstanding the impact of that collision.

“Basically the DDG was T-boned by a ship much larger than itself,” Dowling said at the time.“ It’s a testimonial to the workers that BIW can produce a quality ship that can withstand that type of catastrophe.”

He said at the time that he had questions for the Navy, “as a consumer, as a taxpayer, or simply as an American: Did the ship’s crew have their systems activated? The jury’s still out on how a technical marvel of the sea could have been hit by a common [container ship].”

“What I’ll say about the recent incidents is that proper equipment and personnel training should keep these things from happening, even though vessel traffic has increased tremendously over the past decade,” said Jay Korman, managing director of strategy and management consulting firm Avascent.

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