A SEARCH continues for survivors of an unidentified dhow which collided with a 1,000-foot US aircraft carrier in international waters in the Arabian Gulf late on Thursday.
During night flight operations the USS John F Kennedy collided with the dhow at approximately 10:20pm.
A statement released by the Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet yesterday said that all indications are that the dhow sank as a result of this accident.
"John F Kennedy and HMS Somerset immediately launched helicopters and small boats to search for any crew members of the dhow. US Navy P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft were launched to assist in the search and rescue operation.
"Although a debris field has been located, no survivors or remains have been found. Rescue operations are continuing.
"All airborne aircraft from Kennedy’s airwing were recovered and all crew members have been accounted for. No Kennedy personnel were injured," said the statement.
The U.S.S. Kennedy is stationed here at N.A.S. Mayport. This story reminds me of something that happened on my first ship in July of 1980
On July 29, Midway collided with the Panamanian merchant ship Cactus while transiting the passage between Palawan Island of the Philippines and the coast of Northern Borneo 450 nautical miles southwest of Subic Bay enroute to Singapore. While Midway sustained no serious damage, two sailors working in the liquid oxygen plant were killed, three were injured, and three F-4 Phantom aircraft parked on the flight deck were damaged.
I will never forget this incident. My shop was located underneath the flight deck and so was extremely noisy when launching aircraft via the cats. I had created a set of headphones using "Mickey Mouse" ear protectors. This kept most of the outside noise out and the noise of my music in. I was working on a piece of avionics gear in my shop when the collision occurred. I did not hear the sound of the initial impact or the collision alarm, but sure felt it. When I took my headphones off I heard the ship making a terrible sound almost like it was chiming from the impact. The ship started to rock and I could see the faces of the people in my shop just about turn white. I had no idea what had just occurred, but our Ensign Mr. Brown came running into our shop telling us to evacuate it. The next couple of hours were spent on the hangar deck where we heard just about every rumor possible. Later we learned of the deaths of the two sailors in the LOX plant who were crushed between the bulkhead and the plant.
The year previous the U.S.S. Ranger had been hit by another Panamanian merchant ship and was damaged so badly that they never ended up going into the Indian Ocean by instead went to Yokusuka, Japan for repairs. We had recently come off deployment but instead when out for another tour to replace the Ranger. I always wondered if these "accidents" might have been intentional since Panamanian registry was given to any country that paid for it. The Cactus had made a U-Turn directly into our ship and besides taking of the tales of F-4s on the flight deck, the collision took off catwalks and destroyed an aircraft elevator. We figured that was it for that cruise, but after only two weeks of repairs at the base at Subic Bay where they brought in the very industrious Japanese shipyard workers we were back on cruise with a new elevator, catwalks, and a Liquid Oxygen truck to replace our LOX plant. After an investigation our Captain was not relieved as it was found that there was nothing he could have done to prevent the accident. This is pretty rare that after a major accident of this nature that the Captain isn’t relived on some pretext.
During the repair and removal of the old LOX Plant I found out something quite surprising to me. The welding burns of where they removed the plant burned the tiling in my shop. I found out that the LOX plaint was directly underneath where I had been standing at the time. So obviously I am pretty thankful that the LOX plant did not blow.