2 Navy Ships Collide Off California

No injuries reported after Essex slams into oiler
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2012 12:31 AM CDT
Updated May 17, 2012 1:52 AM CDT
The crackup occurred as the oiler USNS Yukon was about to refuel the Essex.   (AP Photo/US Navy)
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(Newser) – Two Navy ships were damaged in a collision in the Pacific Ocean 120 miles off the coast of California—but there were no injuries or fuel spills, according to military officials. The amphibious assault vehicle USS Essex hit the USNS Yukon oiler as it was approaching the Yukon to be refueled, reports AP. The steering on the Essex, which was carrying 982 crew members on its way to San Diego, apparently failed, according to a 3rd Fleet spokesman.

The Yukon has been involved in at least two previous collisions during its 19 years in service, including one during a refueling maneuver off the coast of Hawaii. This is the first collision involving the 844-foot Essex—nicknamed the "Iron Gator"—but the Essex has experienced problems in the past, notes the San Diego Union-Tribune. The 20-year-old warship, which is due for a major overhaul early next year, failed to meet a commitment at sea recently for the second time in seven months because of mechanical or maintenance issues officials attributed to "wear and tear."

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