Monday, August 13, 2012

Collision in the Strait of Hormuz

The following is the official US Navy release on the collision of USS Porter (DDG 78) and the Japanese owned bulk oil tanker M/V Otowasan.

No one was hurt Sunday morning when a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer and a large Japanese owned merchant vessel collided near the Strait of Hormuz.

The collision between USS Porter (DDG 78) and the Panamanian-flagged bulk oil tanker M/V Otowasan occurred at approximately 1:00 a.m. local time.

Porter transited under its own power to Jebel Ali, UAE and is now pierside for assessment and repair.

The incident is under investigation.

USS Porter is on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.
5th Fleet has released a short video on YouTube of the damage. More pictures are here. That second picture appears to show some water being pumped out, some sort of flooding control from broken pipes maybe?

Check this out from AIS.


That has to be about the location of the incident, but that is very odd considering the damage on the destroyer was on the starboard front. The last AIS report before it pulled that Crazy Ivan maneuver above was 14.1 knots heading 74 degrees at 12:51am. At 12:55am the ship was slowed to 9.7 knots heading 122 degrees, so presumably the collision had already occurred? If you zoom in you can see see the track where a small box forms, which may be the area where the destroyer came to a full stop and the tanker circles around the ship passing behind, across the port side for a bit, then circles around and passes in front of the destroyer before resuming course.

The destroyer is underway under her own power. USS Porter (DDG 78) is one of the few east coast ballistic missile defense capable AEGIS destroyers and is scheduled to be homeported in Rota, Spain in the future. Neither the destroyer nor the tanker is reporting any leaks as a result of the collision.

This was the weather forecast, but I am not sure where to find reliable weather data for that point and time. Depending upon conditions visibility can get rough this time of year there at 1:00am in the morning.

I am very curious if there was Iranian small boat activity at the time, whether there were any squalls, and if the surface search radars on the ship were functioning properly. The lack of situational awareness in hindsight of this incident suggests some explaining is necessary, because one would think a modern US Navy AEGIS destroyer could avoid ramming a 300,000 ton super tanker that reportedly has 95% of her 2 million barrels of fuel loaded and is apparently using AIS.

It is a great thing no one was injured. It is also worth pointing out that if a 300,000 ton ship rams a 9000 ton ship that isn't as well built as a US Navy destroyer, there is a very good chance that other ship probably sinks.

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