Nuke sub collides with oil tanker

MANAMA (AFP) — A US navy nuclear-powered submarine on “anti-terrorism duties” in the Arabian Sea collided with a Japanese oil tanker but no injuries were immediately reported, officials said Tuesday.

The USS Newport News was underwater when it hit the oil tanker Mogamigawa late Monday in the Strait of Hormuz, said a US navy spokeswoman in Bahrain, Lieutenant Denise Garcia.

The strait, one of the busiest seaways for oil tankers, is located between Iran and Oman.

The US military said it is investigating the cause of the accident, which Garcia said happened at about 10:15pm (2015 GMT) on Monday.

“Overall damage to the USS Newport News is being evaluated. The propulsion plant was unaffected by this collision,” Garcia said.

In Tokyo, the Japanese foreign ministry said the submarine’s bow collided with the stern of the oil tanker.

“Apparently, there were no injuries on the submarine or the tanker,” the ministry said in a statement, citing US government information.

The tanker was operated by Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, or K Line, according to a spokesman for Showa Shell Sekiyu, which contracted the vessel.

“We have learned there were no injuries and or oil leak,” he told AFP.

Japan’s Transport Minister Tetsuzo Fuyushiba also told reporters there appeared to have been no oil leakage from the tanker.

“The ship was able to navigate on its own, and apparently no one was injured,” he said.

After the accident, the tanker was headed to the nearest port in the United Arab Emirates, the Japanese foreign ministry said, adding that Japan had asked the United States to investigate the cause of the incident.

The Newport News, a 110-metre long, Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, carries a crew of 127 and is based in Norfolk, Virginia.

The submarine is part of the carrier group supporting the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, an aircraft carrier. The group is deployed in the Gulf region.

In a statement from the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet in Manama, officials said the incident “is currently under investigation.” The USS Newport News, it added, is on a “regularly scheduled deployment” conducting maritime security operations, which help “deny international terrorists use of maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material”, the statement read.

On February 9, 2001 the nuclear-powered US submarine Greenville sank the Japanese fisheries training ship Ehime Maru during a rapid ascent off the coast of Hawaii, killing nine people on board, including four teenage students.

Commander Scott Waddle, who commanded the Grenville and was hosting civilian guests at the time of the accident, accepted responsibility for the fiasco and was reprimanded, then allowed to retire from the navy.

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