US Navy vessels collide in Strait of Hormuz

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The Independent Online

Two US Navy vessels - a nuclear-powered submarine and an amphibious ship - collided today in the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and the Arabian peninsula, the US Navy's 5th Fleet reported.

There was no damage to the sub's nuclear propulsion system, said Lt. Nate Christensen, a 5th Fleet spokesman.

The military said in a statement that the incident occurred around 1:00 a.m. local time on Friday (5 p.m. EDT, Thursday), when the USS Hartford, a submarine, and the USS New Orleans, an amphibious ship, collided.

According to the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, 15 sailors aboard the Hartford were slightly injured but able to return to duty. No injuries were reported aboard the New Orleans.

Both ships were heading to port and were going in the same direction when the incident occurred in the narrow strait, said 5th Fleet spokesman, Lt. Nate Christensen. He said the incident occurred at night and the submarine was submerged at the time but that he could give no further details as the collision is still under investigation.

Both vessels are now heading to port for repairs and evaluation, but Christensen said that following standard security procedures he could not say where the vessels were headed.

The New Orleans suffered a ruptured fuel tank, resulting in an oil spill of approximately 25,000 gallons (95,000 liters) of diesel fuel.

Both ships are currently operating under their own power.

The Navy said both ships were on regularly scheduled deployments to the region and conducting security operations.

Oil prices rose after news of the collision which happened in a busy shipping route.

As much as 17 million barrels of oil a day went through the narrow strait in the first half of 2008, or about 40 percent of all seaborne traded oil or 20 pervcent of all oil traded globally.

The Hartford is based in Groton, Conn. and the New Orleans is based in San Diego, Calif., the Navy said. As all US submarines, the Hartford is nuclear powered. The New Orleans is an amphibious transport dock ship.

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