A Look at Earlier Collisions Involving Navy Vessels

Nov. 20, 2014: U.S.N.S. Amelia Earhart and the U.S.N.S. Walter S. Diehl collided during an exchange of goods in the Gulf of Aden. Both ships resupply Navy warships for the United States Fifth Fleet, which is based in Manama, Bahrain. No one was injured. The accident happened during a tricky maneuver used by United States Navy and allied ships in which they come within 150 feet of each other to be resupplied with fuel and food without pulling into a port, according to the Navy’s website.

July 22, 2004: The U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, an aircraft carrier, and a dhow, a small traditional Arab sailing boat, collided in the Persian Gulf. The dhow sank immediately, and all those aboard are believed to have died. It is still unclear how many people were on it, but dhows — which are used mainly for transportation and fishing — can generally carry up to 15 people.

The Kennedy — which was engaged in night air operations at the time — had made a hard turn to avoid the tiny vessel. The carrier was unscathed from the impact on its starboard hull; its crew and aircraft were all accounted for, but two jet fighters on the deck were damaged when the ship turned. The Navy relieved Stephen G. Squires, the commanding officer of the Kennedy, after the episode.

“There is every reason to believe the collision was an accident, but there are force protection implications because warships make every effort to stay away from unknown small boats, which could pose a terrorist threat,” a Navy spokesman said at the time.

The Kennedy was involved in an earlier deadly accident, in Nov. 22, 1975, when a nuclear-powered cruiser, the U.S.S. Belknap, collided with the carrier in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Sicily, destroying the cruiser. A fire ensued just meters from the ship’s nuclear weapons magazine, where nuclear-tipped Terrier surface-to-air missiles were kept. Crews were able to eventually extinguish the blaze, though it…

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