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Pentagon Confirming Two U.S. Warships Collided in Persian Gulf

Aired January 28, 2002 - 08:05   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We have some breaking news to report. The Pentagon is now confirming that two U.S. warships collided in the Persian Gulf yesterday. Neither one of them apparently is in danger of sinking.

Let's go to Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for the latest on this -- Barbara, what else have you learned?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Paula. Well, the Pentagon is now confirming to us, indeed, that these two warships collided yesterday in the North Arabian Sea off the coast of Oman.

And what's a bit embarrassing to the U.S. Navy is it was a submarine and a surface ship, and the submarine was the USS Greeneville. You'll remember that was the submarine that just last year, just last February 9, collided with a Japanese fishing vessel off the coast of Hawaii, and there were fatalities from that incident. A few months later during the summer the Greeneville had another incident when it scraped the bottom of a harbor in Saipan out in the Pacific when it was trying to maneuver.

And now it's apparently collided with a warship, the USS Ogden. It's a Navy surface ship, and what we are told, both ships were on the surface. They were sitting side by side. They were transferring personnel between the two ships. They collided. One of the fuel tanks on the Ogden, the amphibious ship, ruptured and began spilling fuel. No fatalities, no injuries. Both ships are said to be under way on their own steam, but it's a bit of an embarrassment for the Navy -- Paula.

ZAHN: Barbara, you say they are under way on their own steam. Where are they headed? Do they have to go back to port for some major repairs here?

STARR: Absolutely. That's the assumption at the moment is that they will pull into the nearest port. Someone is going to certainly have to go underneath both ships, look at the hulls, make sure they are fine, repair that fuel tank. And for the submarine, what's most important is that none of the very high-tech acoustic tiles, which coat the submarine, which keep it silent under the water, that none of those are damaged. That's one of the problems. Even if a submarine is in a minor collision, some of this very high-tech equipment can be damaged, and it's got to be repaired -- Paula. ZAHN: The strangest thing, though, is the fact that you said that both of them were on the surface -- on the surface of the water.

STARR: Right. They are on the surface, so they were clearly visually in sight of each other. These things do happen. They are not supposed to, and as I said, for the Navy, it's just a bit embarrassing, because this is now the third public incident with the submarine Greeneville in just the last year.

ZAHN: Barbara Starr, thank you for bringing us up to date on that breaking news.

STARR: You are welcome.

ZAHN: Once again, the Pentagon confirming two U.S. warships collided in the Persian Gulf, a submarine and a surface ship. And we will continue to keep you updated on that throughout the morning.

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