US warship collides with Japanese tug boat, latest mishap for the Navy's 7th Fleet

Latest mishap for the Navy's 7th Fleet

November 18, 2017 - 11:52 am
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(TOKYO) -- A U.S. warship collided with a Japanese commercial tug boat in Japan's Sagami Bay on Saturday, marking the fifth time this year that a ship in the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet in the Pacific has been involved in a crash.

The Japanese tug boat lost propulsion and drifted into the USS Benfold during a towing exercise. The U.S. guided-missile destroyer sustained minimal damage, and there were no reported injuries on either vessel, according to a press release from the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet.

The USS Benfold, which is awaiting a full damage assessment, remains at sea under its own power. The incident will be investigated, the 7th Fleet said.

Here's a look at previous crashes involving U.S. Navy warships in 2017, including two deadly collisions that left 17 sailors dead:

Jan. 31: The USS Antietam runs aground off coast of Japan


The USS Antietam ran aground off the coast of Japan on January 31, damaging its propellers and spilling oil into the water.

The guided-missile destroyer grounded near the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, Japan, after anchoring out in high winds, the Navy Times reported.

The crew noticed the ship was dragging its anchor before getting it back underway, according to the Navy Times, adding that the crew then felt the ship shudder and lose pitch control of its propellers.

About 1,100 gallons of oil were dumped into the Tokyo Bay, the Navy Times reported. No one was injured.

A Navy investigation revealed that the former Capt. Joseph Carrian of the USS Antietam was "ultimately responsible" for the ship’s running aground, causing an estimated $4.2 million in damage, according to Stars and Stripes.

May 9: The USS Lake Champlain collides with South Korean fishing boat

The USS Lake Champlain, also a guided-missile cruiser, collided with a South Korean fishing boat in the Sea of Japan May 9.

No one was injured in the incident.

The warship tried to alert the fishing boat before the collision but it was too late.

June 17: The USS Fitzgerald collides with a Philippine container ship

Seven U.S. sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with Philippine-flagged container ship in the middle of the night off the coast of Yokosuuka, Japan, June 17.

The destroyer was operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka when it collided with the ACX Crystal.

The Fitzgerald sustained damage on its starboard side and experienced flooding in some spaces as a result of the collision, according to the Navy.

 All seven sailors who died were initially missing after the collision and found in the flooded quarters after the destroyer returned to port, a Navy official told ABC News. Those quarters flooded within 90 seconds of the collision.

The area is often busy with sea traffic, with as many as 400 ships passing through it every day, according to Japan's coast guard.

The Navy last week relieved the USS Fitzgerald's commanding officer, executive officer and senior enlisted sailor for alleged mistakes that led to the deadly crash.

Aug. 21: The USS John S. McCain collides with a merchant ship

Ten U.S. sailors were killed when the USS John S. McCain, named after the father and grandfather of Vietnam war hero Sen. John S. McCain III, R-Ariz., collided with commercial vessel Alnic MC in waters east of Singapore on Aug. 21, according to the Navy.

The collision occurred east of the Strait of Malacca around 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time. The guided-missile destroyer was on its way for a routine port visit in Singapore, the Navy said in a statement.

"It was one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world," said Steve Ganyard, an ABC News contributor, retired Marine colonel and a former deputy assistant secretary of state.

"One-third of all maritime shipping goes through here," Ganyard said. "So there were probably extenuating circumstances but no doubt, as we saw in the Fitzgerald, there was probably human error involved, as well."

The warship suffered significant damage to the hull, causing flooding in nearby departments, including the crew berthing, machinery and communications rooms, the Navy said.

"This leaves a real gap in the Pacific fleet's capabilities at a time when tensions with North Korea are high," Ganyard said.

All 10 sailors who died were initially missing and their remains were later found inside sealed compartments of the warship's damaged hull. Another five sailors sustained non-life-threatening injuries, the Navy said.

The crew consisted of 23 officers, 24 petty officers and 291 sailors, according to the Navy's website. Its home port is in Yokosuka, Japan.

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