US navy vessels collide near Iran

Joined: Nov 25 2005, 11:41 AM

Mar 21 2009, 12:14 PM #1

Iran's nuclear threat? Injured mariners, an oil spill and oil price hike.
US navy vessels collide near Iran
Submarine and amphibious craft collide in strait of Hormuz while heading to port for repairs

    * Dan Glaister in Los Angeles
    * guardian.co.uk, Friday 20 March 2009 17.51 GMT

Two US navy vessels, including a nuclear-powered submarine, collided in one of the Middle East's key oil routes today lightly injuring 15 sailors and causing oil prices to rise.

The collision in the strait of Hormuz, between Iran and the Arabian peninsula, occurred in darkness when the submarine was submerged. The craft, the USS Hartford, suffered no damage to its nuclear propulsion system, a spokesman for the 5th Fleet said.

The other craft, the amphibious USS New Orleans, suffered a ruptured fuel tank, resulting in the spillage of 95,000 litres of diesel fuel. Both vessels were heading in the same direction when the collision occurred in the narrow strait and were subsequently heading to port for repairs, the spokesman said.

In the first half of 2008, around 20% of all the oil traded globally passed through the strait of Hormuz. Some 17m barrels of oil passed through the strait each day in the period, accounting for 40% of all seaborne traded oil.

However there was no disruption to shipping in the strait following the collision.

"There is no disruption to shipping traffic in the strait. Both ships are operating under their own power and have passed through the strait," said Lieutenant Nathan Christensen, the US 5th Fleet spokesman.

The 15 injured sailors were aboard the submarine but were able to return to duty.

The accident comes six weeks after a British nuclear submarine collided with a French vessel deep below the surface of the Atlantic ocean.

HMS Vanguard and Le Triomphant were carrying nuclear weapons and travelling at low speeds when they collided in early February. No injuries were reported.

The two crafts were carrying a combined estimated total of more than 100 nuclear warheads when they collided, raising fears that a catastrophe was narrowly averted, and leading to calls for an end to the cold war policy of maintaining continuous nuclear patrols.
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