Previous Collisions Involving U.S. Navy Vessels
Here are a handful of other recent collisions involving United States Navy vessels at sea — several of which included fatalities.
June 17, 2017: Seven sailors were killed when the Fitzgerald, a destroyer, was broadsided by a Philippines-registered cargo ship, about 60 miles off the coast of Japan. A Navy report released in August found that within 90 seconds of the collision, seawater began rushing through a gaping hole in the starboard hull, filling berths in which sailors had been sleeping. In response to the report’s findings, which blamed the ship’s crew, the Navy relieved two senior officers.
May 9, 2017: A 60- to 70-foot South Korean fishing boat collided with the Lake Champlain, a guided-missile cruiser, on its port side while the cruiser was conducting routine operations in international waters. No one was injured. Fishing boat crew members later said the fishing vessel did not have a radio, so they did not hear the calls from the Navy, a Navy official said at the time.
Aug. 19, 2016: The Louisiana, a nuclear ballistic-missile submarine, and the Eagleview, a Military Sealift Command support vessel, collided while conducting routine operations in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the coast of Washington State. There was damage to the hulls of both the Eagleview and the Louisiana. No one was injured.
Nov. 20, 2014: The Amelia Earhart and the Walter S. Diehl collided during an exchange of goods in the Gulf of Aden. Both ships resupply Navy warships for the United States Fifth Fleet, which is based in Manama, Bahrain. No one was injured. The accident happened during a tricky maneuver used by United States Navy and allied ships in which they come within 150 feet of each other to be resupplied with fuel and food without pulling into a port, according to the Navy’s website.
July 22, 2004: The John F. Kennedy, an aircraft carrier, and a dhow, a small traditional Arab sailing boat, collided in the Persian Gulf. The dhow sank immediately, and all those aboard are believed to have died. It is still unclear how many people were on it, but dhows — which are used mainly for transportation and fishing — can generally carry up to 15 people.
The Kennedy, which was engaged in night air operations at the time, had made a hard turn to avoid the tiny vessel. The carrier was unscathed from the impact on its starboard hull; its crew and aircraft were all accounted for, but two jet fighters on the deck were damaged when the ship turned. The Navy relieved Stephen G. Squires, the commanding officer of the Kennedy, after the episode.
“There is every reason to believe the collision was an accident, but there are force protection implications because warships make every effort to stay away from unknown small boats, which could pose a terrorist threat,” a Navy spokesman said at the time.
The Kennedy was involved in an earlier deadly accident, in Nov. 22, 1975, when an American guided-missile cruiser, the Belknap, collided with the carrier in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Sicily, destroying the cruiser. A fire ensued just yards from the ship’s nuclear weapons magazine, where nuclear-tipped Terrier surface-to-air missiles were kept. Crews were able to eventually extinguish the blaze, though it did burn for around 20 hours. Seven sailors perished on the Belknap and one on the Kennedy. Dozens were injured.
The next year, on Sept. 14, the Bordelon, an American destroyer that was one of the ships that had come to the rescue in the Belknap collision, collided with the Kennedy while refueling alongside the cruiser. Parts of the Bordelon were damaged, including its port bow and main mast, which fell, injuring some onboard. The Bordelon was decommissioned as a result.
July 13, 2000: The Denver, an amphibious transport dock, and the Yukon, a replenishment oiler, collided during a refueling exercise west of Hawaii. Both ships sustained significant damage. An investigation found that “human error caused this collision,” with the Denver at fault. No injuries were reported.
June 14, 1989: The Houston, an attack submarine, which appeared in the 1990 film “The Hunt for Red October,” snagged a tow cable of the commercial tugboat Barcona during filming off the coast of Southern California. The Barcona sank, and one crewman on the tugboat drowned.