Navy Ships Collide Off Southern California Coast

Apparent steering malfunction caused a collision Wednesday, Navy official says

By Lauren Steussy
|  Thursday, May 17, 2012  |  Updated 7:43 PM PDT
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Damage to USS Essex

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USS Essex Arrives Back in SD

USS Essex arrived in San Diego Thursday morning, just one day after a collision with an oil replenishment ship. NBC 7 military reporter Lea Sutton surveyed the damage.
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USS Essex arrived in San Diego Thursday morning, just one day after a collision with an oil replenishment ship.

USS Essex collided with USNS Yukon during a replenishment operation about 120 miles off the coast of Southern California Wednesday morning, Navy officials said. 

Officials believe a steering malfunction in the Essex caused the collision.

Essex returned to San Diego after completing 12 years in Sasebo, Japan. The crew of USS Bonhomme Richard took over Essex last month.

No one was injured and no oil was spilled, but the two ships sustained some damage, a statement read. The Navy says there was no major structural damage to the hull or systems of either ship, and no injuries but damage can be seen to the starboard elevator platform and catwalk on the rear starboard side.

USNS Yukon is one of the Military Sealift Command's fifteen Fleet Replenishment Oilers. It is about 677.5 feet long.

USS Essex is an amphibious assault ship, about 840 feet long.

"The Navy will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the collision, and a full assessment of any damage is ongoing," a statement read.

Essex is scheduled to participate in training exercises this summer, off the Hawaiian islands.. Then undergo extensive maintenance. The ship will call San Diego it's home port, and be part of the Expeditionary Strike Group 3, within US Third Fleet.

This is not the first collision for USNS Yukon. In 2000, one of the Yukon fleet oilers was hit by an amphibious transport ship, a Navy press release stated.

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