So my old boat, the USS Hartford, was in a significant collision this week. While transiting (submerged) through the Straits of Hormuz, they ran into the USS New Orleans, an amphibious ship (surface ship that carries Marines). According to reports, about 15 people on the Hartford were hurt, though luckily none were seriously injured. The New Orleans had some tanks punctured, spilling about 25+k gallons of fuel oil.
The Hartford looks like it’s in pretty bad shape. Here are photos from the NavyTimes.com:
This one shows the sail bent over at an angle:
This shows the damage on the front of the sail, but you can also see where the bottom of the sail has pulled apart from the hull after being bent over:
I can only imagine two scenarios about what happened. #1- The Hartford lost depth control and/or got sucked up in the wake of a big surface ship. (Unlikely but has happened.) #2- The Hartford was on its way to periscope depth and didn’t hear the New Orleans or realize it was as close as it was. Since the NavyTimes article quoted the Navy as saying the Hartford was “submerged but near the surface” it sounds like #2 is the right answer. Unfortunately this is not hugely uncommon; going to periscope depth is the most dangerous thing a submarine does regularly.
I feel really bad for the guys on the boat. I was on the Hartford when we grounded off of Italy in 2003; it’s an awful experience for everyone, whether you were personally involved or not. It causes a lot of disruption for the Navy and all the people involved. I’m no expert, but that damage is probably going to take a long time to fix.
[UPDATE]: More photos here from the Navy. The sail is pretty trashed. Lots of Navy-specific comments on Joel’s blog here.
[UPDATE 2]: Commenters on Joel’s blog have written that the Hartford experienced an 82-degree roll! If that’s even half-true (and it may very well not be) it’s amazing that only 15 people were hurt.