2 Navy ships collide in Pacific; no injuries

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship and a refueling tanker collided in the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday, but there were no injuries and no fuel spills, the 3rd Fleet said.

The collision between the assault ship USS Essex and the oiler USNS Yukon occurred at midmorning about 120 miles off Southern California, according to a statement.

The Essex was approaching the Yukon to get in position to be refueled when a steering malfunction occurred, and the two ships collided, said Cmdr. Charlie Brown, a fleet spokesman.

Both ships reported some damage, Brown said. He gave no further details.

The fleet statement said neither ship's fuel tanks or systems were compromised, but a full assessment of any damage was continuing.

The Essex, an 844-foot-long vessel that resembles a small aircraft carrier, is due to return to San Diego on Thursday after 12 years based in Sasebo, Japan, as command ship for the Navy's Expeditionary Strike Group 7. It has a crew of about 1,200.

The Yukon is a 677-foot tanker that replenishes oil for other Navy ships in the Pacific fleet. It was launched in 1993, and all but three of its 92 crew members are civilians, according to the Navy's website.

Navy ships routinely refuel at sea while under way.


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