Sailor from Houston area among missing on USS John McCain

A U.S. sailor with ties to the Houston remains missing after his ship was struck by an oil tanker near Singapore.

HOUSTON -- Family members confirm a 20-year-old sailor from the Houston area is among the missing after a collision involving the USS John S. McCain.

John “CJ” Hoagland's family is hoping for a miracle and preparing for the worst. They live near Cleveland, northeast of Houston.

“We saw it on the news, the collision, saw it on the news,” said great uncle Larry Reed. “Was the first we knew anything about it.”

Hoagland’s ship, the USS John S McCain collided with a massive oil tanker near Singapore. He served as an electronics technician aboard the ship.

His family says they heard about injured sailors and the 10 others who were missing A personal visit from the Navy confirmed that CJ was among the missing.

Worse news followed Tuesday morning when a number of bodies were found aboard his ship.

“We knew they were coming, but that didn’t make it any easier,” said Cynthia Kimball, CJ’s mother. “It confirmed that it was true.”

Kimball told us she last spoke with her son two days before the incident at sea. He was excited about going to Singapore.

Navy and Marine Corps divers Tuesday located the remains of some of the 10 sailors missing from the McCain.

The ship collided with an oil tanker off Malaysia the day before.

Divers investigating damage to the ship were probing sealed compartments and "were able to locate some remains in those sealed compartments during their search," said Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Swift said the Malaysian navy had reported locating other potential remains and was working to confirm the identities. Naval ships from Singapore and Malaysia were aiding the U.S. Navy in a massive search that was continuing Tuesday, Swift said.

“We will continue the search and rescue operations until the probability of discovering sailors is exhausted,” he said.

The McCain, a guided missile destroyer, was about five miles off the coast of Malaysia and headed for routine port visit to Singapore when it collided Monday with the Liberian-flagged Alnic MC, a 600-foot oil and chemical tanker.  The Navy said the ship suffered “significant damage” to its hull, flooding crew berths, machinery and communications rooms.

Five U.S. sailors were injured in the crash. Swift said four had been immediately flown by Singapore navy helicopters to a Singapore hospital, and the fifth was hospitalized when the ship reached Singapore. The McCain remains docked in Singapore for repairs.

"I visited with those sailors, and they are doing well," Swift said.

The search for the missing sailors was continuing east of Singapore where the collision occurred, Swift said. Meanwhile, divers were preparing to access compartments sealed in the aftermath of the collision as the ship's sailors struggled to sail the battered ship into port.

"I also visited with the crew today, and they are tough and they are resilient," Swift said. "It is clear their damage control efforts saved the ship and saved lives."

Swift said the investigation into the cause of the collision was continuing. The Alnic sustained some damage, but no injuries to crew were reported, the Singapore government said. The ship was carrying fuel oil, but no spill was reported.

The collision came two months after USS Fitzgerald was badly damaged in a collision on June 17 that killed seven sailors off the coast of Japan. Swift also referenced to lesser incidents involving Navy vessels in recent months.

“While each of these four incidents is unique, they cannot be viewed in isolation,” Swift said.

The Navy’s top officer on Monday ordered a pause in operations around the world.

Adm. John Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations, said the pause was ordered to allow commanders to take immediate action to keep sailors and ships safe

Richardson said the latest collision involving the USS John S. McCain had left him “devastated and heartbroken.” Richardson also ordered a Navy-wide review to get at the “root causes” of the problems.

Megan Partlow of Ohio, who says her fiancee was on board the McCain, told the Associated Press in a Facebook message that they last communicated on Sunday and she was losing hope of seeing him again.

“My last text to him was ‘be safe’, which is the same way we end every conversation. I’m just ready for answers,” she said. The identities of the missing have not been disclosed, but Partlow said her fiancee’s parents were in touch with the Navy’s family assistance center.

The ship is named after John S. McCain Sr. and John S. McCain Jr., Navy admirals who were the grandfather and father, respectively, of Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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