Straits Times: US envoy thanks Singapore for help after warship collision

Annabeth Leow

Singapore's response was "overwhelmingly generous and kind" after last month's deadly warship collision, the top United States diplomat here has said.

In her first public remarks since the incident involving the USS John S. McCain, charge d'affaires Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath yesterday thanked the Government and Singaporeans for their "generous support during that difficult moment".

She cited the "immediate and continuous air, personnel and maritime support" and the offers of aid from regular Singaporeans.

Ten US sailors were killed and five others injured in an early- morning collision with an oil tanker in Singapore waters off Pedra Branca on Aug 21.

"It is often said that our greatest challenges reveal our closest friends, and that is what we were reminded (of) on Aug 21 and the days that followed," said Ms Syptak-Ramnath.

The former US naval officer was speaking at a business event organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.

She added: "That same concerned and uncalculating friendship was on display in more recent days, as Singapore became one of the first foreign governments to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas."

The Republic of Singapore Air Force deployed four helicopters and assisted in disaster relief operations in the battered south- western American state earlier this month.

That was a reminder of its military aid after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which Ms Syptak-Ramnath called "another sign of the longstanding partnership that exists between our two countries".

Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang, who was also at the business event at the Four Seasons Singapore hotel, thanked the charge d'affaires for her "kind remarks". He added: "It shows the wide-ranging relations between the US and Singapore."

Ms Syptak-Ramnath has been heading her embassy in Singapore since Mr Kirk Wagar left his post as ambassador at the start of US President Donald Trump's administration.