300,000-tonne Japanese tanker
Mogamigawa is seen in this undated photo released by Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha
Ltd. in Tokyo January 9, 2007. The large crude carrier and a US nuclear
submarine collided in the Arabian Sea, but there were no injuries or oil
leaks, officials at the tanker's owner said on Tuesday.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - A US nuclear-powered submarine and Japanese
merchant ship collided near the busy shipping lanes of the Straits of Hormuz,
the US Navy and Japanese government said Tuesday. No one was seriously injured.
Damage to the fast-attack USS Newport News submarine and the tanker was light
and there was no resulting spill of oil or leakage of nuclear fuel, officials
from US Navy, Japanese and Emirates government said.
Both ships remained able to navigate, said a Navy official in Japan who
requested anonymity because the details of the incident had not yet been
released. Japan's Kyodo News agency first reported the collision.
This file photo obtained from the US Navy shows the Los
Angeles-class attack submarine USS Newport News departing Souda Bay harbor
in Greece. The nuclear-powered submarine collided with a Japanese merchant
ship in the Arabian Sea, the US Defense Department said.
The bow of the nuclear-powered Newport News hit the stern of the oil tanker
Mogamigawa as the vessels were passing just outside the Straits Monday night,
causing minor damage to the Japanese vessel, Japan's Foreign Ministry said. The
Japanese government said it was informed of the crash by the Navy and the US
Embassy in Tokyo.
The tanker, operated by Japanese shipping company Kawasaki Kisen Ltd., was
able to continue to a nearby port in the United Arab Emirates, the statement
said. Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency described the ship as a supertanker.
Commander Kevin Aandahl of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet in Bahrain confirmed
there had been a crash and that there were no injuries. Aandahl said the sub had
surfaced and its crew was evaluating damage.
There was no leakage of radioactive material in the collision, Kyodo
reported, citing Japan's Foreign Ministry.
The Newport News is based in Norfolk, Va., and was launched in 1986. It has a
crew of 127.
The Mogamigawa was traveling from the Persian Gulf to Singapore and was
carrying a crew of eight Japanese and 16 Filipinos, Kyodo said. Officials from
the shipping company were not immediately available for comment.
The Japanese government has asked the US side to investigate. Aandahl said a
Navy investigation would begin shortly.
In February 2001, a US Navy submarine rammed into a Japanese fishing vessel
in waters off Hawaii, killing nine people. The American captain's delay in
apologizing for the crash triggered protests by the victims' families.
The 34-mile wide Straits of Hormuz forms the entrance to the Gulf, through
which about two-fifths of the world's oil supplies pass. Cargo vessels headed
for Dubai, the world's largest manmade port, also pass through the straits,
bordered by Iran and Oman.
US naval vessels have been involved in previous collisions with commercial
ships in the busy shipping lanes around the Persian Gulf. In September 2005, the
US nuclear submarine Philadelphia collided with a Turkish cargo ship in the
Gulf, causing no injuries.
In July 2004, the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy collided with a dhow
in the Gulf, leaving no survivors on the traditional Arab sailing boat. The Navy
relieved the Kennedy's commander, Capt. Stephen B. Squires, after the incident.
Fleets of US and allied navy vessels conduct "maritime security operations"
in the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea and western Indian Ocean, attempting to block
smuggling of weapons to Iraq and Somalia, nuclear components to Iran, as well as
the movement of drug shipments and terrorists.