Tuesday, January 9, 2007

OOPS! US Sub Hits Japanese Tanker in Strait of Hormuz!!

From The Australian [with a few comments added]

US sub hits Japanese ship
JAPAN has asked for a US investigation into the cause of a Persian Gulf collision between an American nuclear-powered submarine and a Japanese oil tanker.

The collision between USS Newport News and the fully laden 300,000-tonne tanker Mogamigawa happened about 11.15pm on Monday in the Strait of Hormuz, the 55km wide mouth of the Gulf. [just this far from Iran]

The bow of the 6300-tonne attack submarine struck the tanker's stern, apparently while surfacing. [oops!]

A spokeswoman from Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Mogamigawa's operator, said none of the 24 crew was hurt and no oil was spilled.

The tanker was able to continue under its own power to put into a nearby United Arab Emirates port, Khor Fakkan, for a damage assessment.

The US navy indicated there also were no serious injuries among the submarine's 127 crew.

USS Newport News was operating out of Bahrain, where a US Fifth Fleet spokesman, Commander Kevin Aandahl, confirmed the collision.

"I can confirm that an incident took place between one of our submarines and a merchant vessel," Commander Aandahl said.

He said there was no radiation leakage from Newport News [there never is!] but did not disclose what damage was sustained. [they never do!]

After being informed early yesterday morning, the Japanese Government asked Washington to conduct an inquiry into the incident, though a board of inquiry is standard procedure in such cases.

Commander Aandahl said a navy inquiry would be convened as quickly as possible.

Japan's Transport Minister, Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, said yesterday he was "very relieved" there had been no injuries or serious damage. There is considerable sensitivity in Japan to maritime incidents involving US military vessels, especially since the February 2001 collision off Hawaii between USS Greenville, a nuclear submarine, and the fisheries training vessel Ehime Maru.

Nine Japanese, including four teenage trainees, died after the submarine struck the Ehime Maru from below during an emergency-surfacing drill manoeuvre. [oops!]

A US National Transportation Safety Board report in 2005 blamed the collision on negligence and errors by Greenville's commander, deck officer and two technicians. Undisclosed American reparations were paid to the victims' families.

Mogamigawa was carrying oil for Showa Shell Sekiyu KK from the Persian Gulf to Singapore for refining when the collision happened.

In recent years there have been several collisions between US navy vessels conducting anti-terrorist and weapons smuggling interdiction patrols through the heavily trafficked shipping lanes of the Gulf and Arabian Sea. [oops!]

About 40 per cent of the world's oil supplies pass through the Strait of Hormuz.

In September 2005, another submarine collided with a Turkish cargo ship in the strait and in July 2004 aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy ran over a dhow, killing all its occupants.
An aircraft carrier ran over a dhow.

You can't make this stuff up.