Navy’s Oceanic Fender Bender Spikes Oil

Oil prices rise as key Middle Eastern shipping route disrupted

AP Photo/US Navy - Jennifer R. Hudson

Two U.S. Navy vessels -- a nuclear submarine and an amphibious ship -- collided during the early morning hours Friday in the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and the Arabian peninsula, the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet reported.

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

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 percent of all oil traded globally.

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 when they crashed into each other in the narrow strait, said Lt. Nate Christensen. He said the incident occurred at night, and the submarine was underwater at the time, but said he could give no further details as the incident 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 heading.

The New Orleans suffered a ruptured fuel tank, resulting in an oil spill of approximately 25,000 gallons (95,000 liters) of diesel fuel. There was no damage the nuclear reactor powering the Hartford, Christensen said.

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.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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