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    Re: USS John S McCain
    From: Stephen N.G. Davies
    Date: 2017 Sep 26, 10:09 +0800
    I have stumbled across an animation of the AIS plot in the run up to and aftermath of the collision, though obviously it does not show the USS John S McCain (see here http://gcaptain.com/uss-john-s-mccain-collision-ais-animation-shows-tankers-track-during-collision/ - and yes, it is gcaptain, but I think the clip is OK). 

    It is interesting because, manifestly, there was a lot of close quarters passing going on. At 21:01:10 there are five ships (starting from the east the Long Hu Shan, Guangzhou Wan, Team Oslo, (John S McCain) and Alnic MC)  making c.10 knots within a few cables of each other, but not all going identical speeds, all entering the traffic separation scheme close to its separation zone side. Just about the time the Alnic MC collided with the frigate (identifiable by a stop and turn to port at c.50s or 21:25:30) it was being overtaken pretty close to starboard by Team Oslo with the Chinese ship Guangzhou Wan coming up astern and altering also to leave the Alnic MC (and presumably the John S McCain) to port. By inference the frigate must have been between the Alnic MC and the Team Oslo as that latter ship overtook. 

    At this point the westbound traffic separation lane is only around 2km (around 1 nautical mile) wide, and the three ships (Alnic MC, John S McCain and Team Oslo) would seem to me to be in a huddle not more than four cables (800 yards) maybe as little as 3 cables (600 yards) across. This is very close quarters and the lookouts on the frigate will have had their eyes on stalks trying to hold the ship clear of the vessels either side.

    It will accordingly be very interesting to learn (of we ever do) what speed the McCain was doing. Was it trying to ‘thread the needle’ by passing between the two vessels at a greater speed than either? Was it being overtaken by both vessels?

    It is a very curious plot to ponder.
    Stephen D

    Dr Stephen Davies
    c/o Department of Real Estate and Construction
    EH103, Eliot Hall
    University of Hong Kong

    Office: (852) 2219 4089
    Mobile: (852) 6683 3754 


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