BEIJING (Reuters) - The U.S. navy’s latest collision at sea, the fourth in its Pacific fleet this year, shows it is becoming an increasing risk to shipping in Asia despite its claims of helping to protect freedom of navigation, an official Chinese newspaper said.
The USS John S. McCain and the tanker Alnic MC collided while the guided-missile vessel was nearing Singapore on Monday. The collision tore a hole in the warship’s port side at the waterline, flooding compartments that included a crew sleeping area. Ten sailors are missing.
The collision - the fourth major accident in the U.S. Pacific fleet this year - prompted a fleet-wide investigation and plans for temporary halts in operations to focus on safety.
The state-run China Daily said in an editorial on Tuesday that people will wonder why such a sophisticated navy keeps having these problems.
“The investigations into the latest collision will take time to reach their conclusions, but there is no denying the fact that the increased activities by U.S. warships in Asia-Pacific since Washington initiated its rebalancing to the region are making them a growing risk to commercial shipping,” it said.
China has been upset at U.S. freedom of navigation operations near Chinese controlled islands in the disputed South China Sea, where China has been reclaiming land, building air bases and increasing its military presence.
“While the U.S. Navy is becoming a dangerous obstacle in Asian waters, China has been making joint efforts with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to draw up a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea and it has boosted navigational safety by constructing five lighthouses on its islands,” the China Daily said.
“Anyone should be able to tell who is to blame for militarizing the waters and posing a threat to navigation.”
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry