Navy League Rallies the Community to Help Sailors from USS John S. McCain
On August 21, news broke early in the morning that a collision had taken place between a Liberian-flagged oil tanker and a U.S. warship, off the coast of Singapore and Malaysia, east of the Strait of Malacca. USS John S. McCain (DDG-56), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer was on its way to a port call in Singapore when the mishap occurred. The ship is one of several under the command of Destroyer Squadron 15, Seventh Fleet, with a home port in Yokosuka Naval Base, Yokosuka, Japan.
The ship continued on into Singapore where recovery and damage assessment operations commenced. A large majority of the crew was offloaded and housed in the U.S. Navy community in the Sembawang area. To provide support to the crew during their extended time in Singapore the United Service Organization’s (USO) Expeditionary Support Group established a temporary “Crew Support Center” for rest and relaxation.
Volunteer support was initially provided by the military community at Sembawang but it was clear that relief would be required to sustain longer term operations. The Singapore Council of the U.S. Navy League, under the leadership of their President, Mr. Ray Corrigan, and their Vice President, Mr. Mike Little, who coordinated all volunteers, gathered a group of more than 50 volunteers from within the American Community, to include members of the Navy League, American Association of Singapore, American Chamber of Commerce, American Club, American Woman’s Association and the U.S. Embassy.
The volunteers went to Sembawang to man shifts at the USO Crew Support Center and provided support until the ship and crew transitioned from Singapore in late September. Feedback from the U.S. Navy and USO has been outstanding. Howard Seo, USO Director of Expeditionary Operations said, “Your “volunteers have been amazing. They have realized the needs of the sailors and have even been bringing food in the evening. This has been a massive success, since the sailors are not eating before arriving at the USO. I do thank them very much for their support”. Captain Jeffrey Hutchinson, Commanding Officer, U.S. Navy Region Center Singapore said, “…fantastic support from the American Community…..Not only great support to the sailors but really needed relief for our first responders here in the military community at Sembawang. Thank you [Navy League] for leaning forward to link the volunteers up with our team to come together as a smooth running support group”.
The Singapore Council of the U.S. Navy League would like to thank all volunteers for their time and service at the USO Crew Support Center. We would like to highlight the efforts of Ms. Renee Watkins, Ms. Sunita Riar and Ms. Melinda Murphy for their willingness to come forward and also provide their organizational skills running this operation.