Submarines: Details of a Collision in the Persian Gulf


October 3, 2005: The collision, between the U.S. submarine USS Philadelphia and a Turkish freighter in the Persian Gulf, last September, appears to have occurred because the small radar signature of the surfaced sub did not show on the freighters radar until the ship was almost on top of the sub. The freighter and sub were on converging courses, with the freighter behind the sub. The collision, which had the 53,000 ton freighter running up over the back of the Philadelphia, on the right side, did not cause serious damage to either vessel. The sub suffered damage to its propeller, the fairwater plane, the rudder and the housing for the towed sonar array. The freighter got a hundred foot gash in its hull, right above the waterline. The two ships were entangled for an hour, but both made it back to port on their own. The captain of the submarine was relieved, because crews of subs are supposed to be very careful when running on the surface at night. There have been many close calls with situations similar to the Philadelphia’s. The lawyers are still working out who, according to admiralty law (which covers accidents at sea), was responsible. It appears that the freighter was, but depending on exactly what angle the two ships were coming at each other, the insurance company covering the Turkish ship might get off the hook for the repairs to the Philadelphia.


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