Cruiser ran aground, leaked oil into Tokyo Bay
WASHINGTON — A U.S. missile cruiser ran aground and damaged its propellers in its home port of Yokosuka, near Tokyo, the Navy said Tuesday.
The USS Antietam, a Ticonderoga-class ship, was anchoring in Tokyo Bay when the incident occurred and was safely returned to its port with the help of tug boats, according to a Navy news release.
A Navy official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said it appears the ship ran aground. It is too early to determine how long the Antietam will be out of commission, the Navy official said.
There were no injuries reported to United States or Japanese personnel, said Lt. Clint Ramsden, a Navy spokesman.
The Antietam leaked an estimated 1,100 gallons of hydraulic oil into the bay, Ramsden said. Navy officials notified the Japanese government about the spill, and cleanup operations are underway, he said.
“The Navy has pre-established responses in place and we’re taking appropriate actions” to minimize environmental damage, Ramsden said.
The Navy’s 7th Fleet is headquartered at Yokosuka, where it is responsible for missions ranging from disaster relief to the defense of the Korean Peninsula.
Capt. Joseph Carrigan commands the Antietam, according to a Navy webpage, which also noted the ship’s crew was awarded a Battle Effectiveness award for superior performance in 2015. An investigation into the incident is underway, and the future of the Antietam’s leadership, including the potential removal of Carrigan, has not been determined, Ramsden said.
It is unclear how that oil could impact the environment in the area or further strain relations with Japan. All sailors in the country were banned from buying or consuming alcohol on and off post in June 2016 following high-profile accidents and incidents in Okinawa affecting Japanese civilians, Stars and Stripes reported. The ban was eased 10 days later.
Modern seafloor mapping and sonar technology has made grounding accidents relatively rare, though recent incidents have occurred.
The USS Taylor, a guided-missile frigate, ran aground in a Turkish port while conducting security operations during the Winter Olympic Games in February of 2014. The incident caused $4.8 million in damage and led to the relief of commanding officer Cmdr. Dennis Volpe, Stars and Stripes reported.