WASHINGTON — The U.S. submarine involved in the deadly collision with a Japanese trawler last year collided with an amphibious transport ship in the Arabian Sea. No injuries were reported.
The collision happened Sunday as the ships were preparing to transfer two sailors, Pentagon officials said Monday. It punctured the fuel tank of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Ogden and caused some damage to the USS Greeneville, the officials said.
The Greeneville collided with a Japanese fishing vessel off Hawaii on Feb. 9, 2001, killing nine people on the fishing boat. And on its first major deployment after that accident, the sub grounded while trying to enter the Saipan seaport in rough seas in August.
Initial reports from the scene of Sunday's accident said the Greeneville was on the surface about 40 miles off the coast of Oman in the Northern Arabian Sea.
"Both vessels continue to operate safely," said Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke.
The vessels were operating in support of the war in Afghanistan, Clarke said. The submarine was continuing on the surface to the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia and will receive an underwater assessment of its damage there, Clarke said.
"What went wrong, we don't know," Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem, deputy director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon. The rear portions of the ships touched, he said.
Stufflebeem said the Ogden would remain on station in the northern Arabian Sea and repairs might be made at sea. Divers have gone over the side to assess the damage, he said.
One Navy officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the weather conditions were described as windy at the time of the incident.
The collision occurred at 9:55 a.m. local time Sunday, said the officer.
At the time of the accident, two sailors from the sub were being transferred because of deaths in their families. They had been granted emergency leaves, a Navy officer said.
The men were supposed to have been placed on a small boat from the Ogden and taken to the larger ship, but the transfer had not yet taken place at the time of the accident. Because of the collision, the transfer never took place.
The collision made a 5-inch-by-18-inch puncture in one of the Ogden's fuel tanks 15 feet below the water line on its right side. Several thousand gallons of light diesel fuel leaked into the sea, the officer said.
The Greeneville's stern plane was damaged. That part of the submarine rear acts as a wing to control the angle of the ship's movement.
Clarke identified the commanders of the vessels as Cmdr. Lindsay Henkins of the Greeneville and Cmdr. William Edwards of the Ogden.
An investigation of the incident is under way, the Navy officer said.