USS Philadelphia Collision -- What The Merchant Saw
This Navy Times article has the first statement I've seen from the owners of M/V Yaso (or Yasa) Aysen, the merchant that collided with USS Philadelphia (SSN 690) last month:
"According to a statement issued by the company’s London-based insurer, Yasa Aysen was steaming at 13 knots for the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, following the channel for exiting Bahrain.
"On the bridge, the second officer and a lookout were on navigation and watch duties. At around 2 a.m., a “faint white light” was spotted ahead of the ship. At the time, nothing had registered on either of the ship’s radars, which were both operating at the time.
"Reacting to the light, the ship turned hard to starboard, and signaled on the ship’s whistle. Less than a minute later, the ship and Philadelphia collided. Entangled by the collision, the two vessels were able to separate about 90 minutes later, and both returned to Bahrain under their own power for damage inspections.
"In Bahrain, Yasa Aysen was put in dry-dock for inspections and repairs for damage to the bulbous bow at the front of the ship. Following repairs, the ship re-entered service on Sept. 24."
I suppose this account is accurate, from the perspective of the merchant sailors. The horizon can be pretty dusty in the Gulf at night, and I suppose that had there been a bad sandstorm, it might have been hard to see the sub's light. The report that the merchant turned sharply a minute before the collsion probably indicates that the ship's wouldn't have collided had the merchant stayed on course... I'm sure they moved by more than 200 feet to the right off their original course at that time (13 knots means over 400 yards in a minute; about 70 yards to the degree; so if the ship had averaged 1 degree more to the left during that time, they would have passed astern of the Philadelphia). I'm wondering how the Philly maneuvered; normally, you're supposed to turn right if you're in danger of collision, but this situation is one of the Contact Coordinator "oolies" where you don't turn right...
PigBoatSailor has an interesting "compare and contrast" between this article and another one in the same issue of Navy Times, concerning the aftermath of the collision between USS McFaul and USS Winston Churchill I discussed earlier.
Staying at PD...