Submarines: November 17, 2002

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On November 13th, the U.S. attack submarine USS Oklahoma City struck the Norwegian liquid natural gas tanker "Norman Lady" while surfacing east of Gibraltar. There was minor damage to the submarines sail (the radar mast on the sail section would not raise, one of the periscopes would not lower and some doors in the sail were jammed.) When the sub surfaced, it tried to contact the now distant tanker by radio, but got no response. The damage to the tanker was minor, and the ship's crew were apparently unaware that they had been hit. It was later discovered that the tankers double hull was punctured and some seawater got into the air space between the two hulls. It would appear that the sub's sail bumped into the bottom of the ship. In peacetime, subs are supposed to use their sonar to check for nearby surface ships before surfacing. But this technique is not perfect. A fast moving surface ship can still move into the sub's way as it is surfacing. More details will be known when the navy completes its investigation. 

 


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