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US Navy investigates bunker spill

Two formal investigations will aim to determine how Strait of Hormuz collision took place.



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Updated on 31 Mar 2009 17:37 GMT

Two U.S. Navy vessels that collided earlier this month, causing 25,000 gallons of diesel fuel to leak in the Strait of Hormuz, have been undergoing extensive engineering and damage assessments since pulling into Bahrain on March 21st, US Navy officials said Monday.

The amphibious assault ship USS New Orleans [pictured] and submarine USS Hartford collided on March 20th under conditions that have yet to be publicly explained.

Engineering and technical experts have now arrived in Bahrain to assess the damage to USS Hartford and USS New Orleans.

Investigators believe Hartford rolled approximately 85 degrees during the collision. Despite the roll, engineering investigations have confirmed the propulsion plant of the submarine was unaffected by this collision. However, it sustained damage to its sail and periscope, as well as the port bow plane.

New Orleans suffered a ruptured fuel tank. Divers have determined the resulting hole is approximately 16 by 18 feet in size. There was also interior damage to two ballast tanks.

In addition to the engineering efforts, two formal investigations are currently underway: a Safety Investigation and a Judge Advocate General Manual (JAGMAN) Investigation.

The Safety Investigation Board is appointed to identify hazards and their causal factors in serious incidents. Their report is an essential tool to identify causes to prevent recurrence.

The JAGMAN investigation is intended to provide a critical and objective overview of what happened.

Both investigations have a 30-day initial timeline, but extensions may be granted if more time is needed to complete the investigation process.

Hartford and New Orleans were on regularly scheduled deployments to the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operations conducting maritime security operations (MSO) when the accident occurred, the US navy said.






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