Monday, January 08, 2007

USS Newport News Update

Adding some information to Rob's post below (cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished):

From a Fifth Fleet press release:
No US sailors or merchant crew were injured when a US Navy submarine and a commercial cargo vessel collided in the Strait of Hormuz on Monday evening January 8, 2007.
The collision between USS Newport News (SSN 750) and the Japanese-flagged motor vessel Mogamigawa occurred at approximately 10:15 in the evening (local time) in the strait of Hormuz while the submarine was transiting submerged.
Overall damage to the USS Newport News is being evaluated. The propulsion plant was unaffected by this collision.
The incident is currently under investigation.
USS Newport News is currently on a regularly scheduled deployment to the US Navy Central Command area of responsibility conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO).
Other reports are here and here, but none of the press reports I saw had picked up that the Newport News was submerged at the time of the collision. If so, this eliminates any question on who had the right of way (as we saw in the USS Philadelphia vs. M/V Yaso Aysen collision), since a submerged submarine is always required to stay clear of surface craft. I obviously haven't heard any details yet, but expect to hear people wondering why a submarine couldn't avoid such a huge ship as the M/V Mogamigawa (a 317m supertanker, pictured below):

Believe it or not, the bigger ships are sometimes more difficult to avoid; you can hear them, but the relatively greater depths of the propellers tends to muffle the sounds, and makes them sound further away (although reports that the Newport News hit the tanker's stern make it harder to explain away). Reports indicate that the tanker was outbound from the Gulf, so she would have been fully laden, and drawing about 100 feet at the keel. So, it's possible the Newport News wasn't even at PD, and just clipped the tanker during normal submerged ops.

I'll wait for more information before making any more guesses, but based on initial reports, I don't think this will be an easy one to defend for the Submarine Force. (And having it be a Japanese surface ship just makes it more embarrassing -- although JDS Asashio's recent collision with a Panamanian-flagged tanker may make the Japanese more understanding of the difficulties of avoiding surface traffic in a submarine.)

3 Comments:

At 11:16 PM, Blogger PigBoatSailor said...

ABC news AP story reports that the N.N.'s bow hit the tanker's stern. Running up behind her makes it sound less like they could not hear her, and more like they simple lost the big picture - easy to imagine them doing so, considering how busy the straits of hormuz are...

 
At 11:26 PM, Blogger lazlong said...

Pigboatsailor,

That is my thought as well, that they could have lost track of the large picture. However, it may have not have been them coming up on the tanker straight...it could have been the tanker turned unexpectadly (or some such thing), causing the sub to run into them. We all know how hard it is to turn a sub at PD and slow....but I guess we won't know until the investigation is complete.

As for me and some of the San Fran sailors, this brings up some memories, it being pretty much exactly 2 years after our collision...thank God no one was hurt.

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger TMCS(SS) Ret. said...

The sub was sucked up and rolled to port. The screw from the ship walked its way down the stbd side of the sub damaging the SHT, #1 Nad #3 shutter doors and cut through the hull and bulkhead separating MBT 2 and 3 esentially making the stbd side of these MBTs 1 tank. She is in Bahran get temp fix for the trip home.

 

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