U.S. Navy dedicates Japan-based destroyer to American Sen. John McCain

AP

The head of the U.S. Navy on Thursday dedicated one of two destroyers involved in fatal accidents in the Pacific last year to Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, in a ceremony aboard the USS John S. McCain at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Kanagawa Prefecture, added McCain’s name to a warship that had already been named for the senator’s father and grandfather. All three generations of McCains have the same name.

Spencer told reporters after the ceremony that changes to naval practices recommended after the accidents have been 78 percent implemented. Some are completed, while others such as instilling a culture of continuous learning will take two years.

Seventeen sailors died after the USS Fitzgerald and then the McCain collided with commercial vessels in separate incidents in June and August of 2017.

Scaffolding covers the mast of the McCain as work to repair the ship, which had a gaping hole in its side, continues at the Yokosuka base. Spencer said the Navy hopes to put the ship back out to sea next spring.

The guided-missile destroyer was named after McCain’s father and grandfather, both Navy veterans, when it was launched in 1994. McCain was a naval aviator who was imprisoned and tortured during the Vietnam War. The 81-year-old lawmaker is battling brain cancer.

“As a warrior and a statesman he always put country first,” Spencer said in remarks to about 265 members of the assembled crew of the McCain.

He called the McCains “three distinguished officers. Three truly remarkable Americans.”