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Navy boats collide off the California coast

Earlier this week, two naval vessels met in the ocean, about 120 miles off the San Diego coast, to perform a routine refueling system. During that process, however, an apparent steering malfunction occurred, causing the two boats to collide with one another.

Thankfully, there were no major injuries reported in connection with the boating accident, according to a U.S. Navy official statement. "While both ships reported some damage," it read, "no one was injured, there was no fuel spilled and the ships' fuel tanks and systems were not compromised."

The Navy says that a steering malfunction was responsible for knocking the 844-foot USS Essex into the 677-foot USNS Yukon as the Essex was preparing to go through a refueling operation known as an underway replenishment, or "unrep." This process is often difficult and dangerous, requiring both ships to maintain the same speed and travel a specific distance for a notable length of time.

This was not the first collision for the Yukon. In 2000, it crashed into another ship during a similar unrep procedure. Earlier that year, it collided with a civilian cargo ship in the United Arab Emirates.

When the crash occurred, the Essex was on its way back to San Diego after more than a decade in Japan. The ship is scheduled to participate in a Navy exercise near Hawaii this summer and then receive a major overhaul to prepare it for future use. It is not clear whether the vessel will still take part in those events.

Although the crash had no significant negative results, the Navy will reportedly conduct a thorough investigation into the incident. "We take safety very seriously," said a fleet spokesman.

Source: San Diego 6, "USS Essex Returns Home After Off-Shore Accident," May 17. 2012

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