By JIM KRANE
The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 9, 2007; 2:33 AM
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- A U.S. nuclear-powered submarine and Japanese merchant ship collided near the busy shipping lanes of the Straits of Hormuz, the U.S. Navy and Japanese government said Tuesday. No one was seriously injured.
Damage to the fast-attack USS Newport News submarine and the tanker was light and there was no resulting spill of oil or leakage of nuclear fuel, officials from U.S. Navy, Japanese and Emirates government said.
Both ships remained able to navigate, said a Navy official in Japan who requested anonymity because the details of the incident had not yet been released. Japan's Kyodo News agency first reported the collision.
The bow of the nuclear-powered Newport News hit the stern of the oil tanker Mogamigawa as the vessels were passing just outside the Straits Monday night, causing minor damage to the Japanese vessel, Japan's Foreign Ministry said. The Japanese government said it was informed of the crash by the Navy and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.
The tanker, operated by Japanese shipping company Kawasaki Kisen Ltd., was able to continue to a nearby port in the United Arab Emirates, the statement said. Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency described the ship as a supertanker.
Commander Kevin Aandahl of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet in Bahrain confirmed there had been a crash and that there were no injuries. Aandahl said the sub had surfaced and its crew was evaluating damage.
There was no leakage of radioactive material in the collision, Kyodo reported, citing Japan's Foreign Ministry.
The Mogamigawa was traveling from the Persian Gulf to Singapore and was carrying a crew of eight Japanese and 16 Filipinos, Kyodo said. Officials from the shipping company were not immediately available for comment.
The Japanese government has asked the U.S. side to investigate. Aandahl said a Navy investigation would begin shortly.
In February 2001, a U.S. Navy submarine rammed into a Japanese fishing vessel in waters off Hawaii, killing nine people. The American captain's delay in apologizing for the crash triggered protests by the victims' families.
The 34-mile wide Straits of Hormuz forms the entrance to the Gulf, through which about two-fifths of the world's oil supplies pass. Cargo vessels headed for Dubai, the world's largest manmade port, also pass through the straits, bordered by Iran and Oman.
U.S. naval vessels have been involved in previous collisions with commercial ships in the busy shipping lanes around the Persian Gulf. In September 2005, the U.S. nuclear submarine Philadelphia collided with a Turkish cargo ship in the Gulf, causing no injuries.
In July 2004, the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy collided with a dhow in the Gulf, leaving no survivors on the traditional Arab sailing boat. The Navy relieved the Kennedy's commander, Capt. Stephen B. Squires, after the incident.
Fleets of U.S. and allied navy vessels conduct "maritime security operations" in the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea and western Indian Ocean, attempting to block smuggling of weapons to Iraq and Somalia, nuclear components to Iran, as well as the movement of drug shipments and terrorists.
Associated Press writers Hans Greimel in Tokyo and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.