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Sunday, August 12, 2012
Just How Good Are U.S. Naval Skippers in the Straits of Hormuz? Apparently, Not Very
The U.S.S. Porter, DDG-78, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, on duty in the vicinity of the Straits of Hormuz, collided with a Japanese tanker last night:
The Bahrain-based U.S. Fifth Fleet said the Panamanian-flagged, Japanese-owned bulk oil tanker M/V Otowasan collided with the USS Porter, a guided-missile destroyer, in the early hours of Sunday.
The navy vessel remained able to operate under its own power after the collision, which was not combat-related, the statement added without elaborating on how the accident happened. An investigation was underway.
Photographs released by the U.S. Navy showed a large dent, several meters (yards) high, in the starboard side of the USS Porter just in front of the ship’s superstructure and above the waterline. Personnel hung over the side inspecting the damage.
DId they have a copy of COLREGs on the bridge? Ref for the non-OOD qualified: Section II (for vessels in sight of one another)
15. Crossing situations When two power-driven vessels are crossing, the vessel which has the other on the starboard side must give way and avoid crossing ahead of her. The saying is “If to starboard red appear, ’tis your duty to keep clear”.
108,000 shaft horsepower, controllable pitch propellers, International traffic separation scheme, and CIC to back you up, and you let a tanker French-kiss your starboard side right in front of the bridge?
This is the most volatile shipping congestion point in the world. Busy as it is, there is no excuse for a collision like this. Ensuing confusion, combined with some random unknown involving Iranian naval units, might have launched an awful error. Awful errors have happened before: