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Old 11-30-2017, 02:21 PM
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Arrow Navy releases new details about ship collision off South Korea coast

Navy releases new details about ship collision off South Korea coast
By DAN LAMOTHE | The Washington Post | Published: November 30, 2017

A U.S. ship assigned to protect an American aircraft carrier off the Korean Peninsula collided with a commercial fishing boat after losing track of it on radar and attempting "improper and untimely maneuvers" in an attempt to avoid a wreck, the Navy said in report released Thursday.

The May 9 collision of the USS Lake Champlain, a guided-missile cruiser, was one of four major mishaps for Navy ships in the Pacific this year, including two that left 17 sailors dead. The incidents have prompted broad scrutiny of the Navy's seamanship, training, deployment schedules and oversight by senior officials.

The Champlain, a 567-foot long cruiser, collided with the 60-foot South Korean fishing ship Nam Yang 502 in the Sea of Japan at 11:51 a.m., 16 minutes after the Champlain lost track of the smaller boat. The cruiser's crew ordered a hard turn of 30 degrees first to the right, and then to the left, ultimately striking the Nam Yang 502. The South Korean vessel's bow, or front, struck the Champlain's port, or left, side.

The collision created a 3-foot by 5-foot dent on Lake Champlain, before the South Korean ship pivoted to its right and scraped the ship's side. U.S. sailors inside reported a bulge on an inside wall, or bulkhead, of the ship, but the vessel did not take on water and no one was injured, the report said.

At the time of the mishap, the Lake Champlain was operating in formation with the USS Carl Vinson, an aircraft carrier, and the ROKS Yangmanchun, a South Korean destroyer. The Lake Champlain and Yangmanchun provided security for the carrier, with the Champlain posted to the southwest and the Yangmanchun to the northeast.

The report cited "numerous failures" by Navy personnel standing watch on the Lake Champlain, including an inability to adhere to "sound navigation practices," use available tools at their disposal, such as radar, and respond effectively when in danger of a collision.

The Navy released brief description of the collision in a report Nov. 1 that detailed a broad review of Navy operations in the Pacific. It was called for this summer by Adm. John Richardson, the service's top officer, after the destroyers USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain suffered catastrophic collisions June 17 and Aug. 21, respectively. The Fitzgerald accident killed seven sailors off the southern coast of Japan, while the McCain collision killed 10 sailors near Singapore.

The Navy had declined numerous Freedom of Information Act requests to release a report detailing the Lake Champlain investigation, citing open litigation. Richardson, when asked at a Nov. 2 news conference, committed to releasing a more detailed report about the Champlain.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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