The impact of Monday’s crash off Singapore tore a hole in one side of the USS John S McCain, flooding compartments that included a crew sleeping quarters.
The accident, which also left five sailors injured, was the second deadly collision in two months involving an American warship and the US Navy has launched a fleet-wide investigation.
Commander of the US Pacific fleet Admiral Scott Swift has confirmed the search operation had led to the recovery of some remains and it would continue until all hope had been exhausted.
Efforts by the ship’s crew following the collision were able to halt flooding into other parts of the vessel, which is now docked at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base for damage assessment.
Admiral Swift said: “The divers were able to locate some remains in those sealed compartments during their search today.”
“Additionally, the Malaysian authorities have reported that they have located potential remains. They are working to confirm and identify those remains.”
US Vice President Mike Pence said to have sailors killed in two collisions this year was “unacceptable” and vowed to “get to the bottom of it”.
Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided in waters off Japan.
There were two smaller incidents in the first half of the year when the USS Antietam guided missile cruiser ran aground near Yokosuka base in January, and the USS Lake Champlain had a minor collision with a South Korean fishing boat in May.
“While each of these four incidents is unique, they cannot be viewed in isolation,” Admiral Swift said.
He added the Navy would conduct an investigation “to find out if there is a common cause … and if so, how do we solve that.”