Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Destroyer McCain in Sasebo after array damage

Navy officials still are not confirming reports that it was a Chinese submarine that collided with a towed sonar array trailing from the destroyer John S. McCain on June 10 off the Philippine Islands.

Lt. Cmdr. Tamsen Reese, a Navy spokeswoman at the Pentagon, would say only that the multi-function towed array sonar was “damaged” after “it hit something.”

The McCain, homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, was conducting “routine operations” in “international waters,” when the sonar was damaged, Reese said. Previous news reports have said the incident took place in or near Subic Bay.

Reese would not say if the Navy knows what the sonar hit or if the equipment separated from the ship and was lost at sea.

The McCain did not return to its homeport and instead is in port in Sasebo, Japan, where the damage can be assessed, she said.

Chinese newspapers reported that it was one of their country’s subs that collided with the towed cable and called the episode an accident.

If the Chinese sub did hit the sonar cable, it will be the latest in a string of close calls involving U.S. Navy ships and Chinese vessels. On May 1, the ocean surveillance ship Victorious was harassed by Chinese fishing vessels 170 miles off the coast of China. On March 8, five Chinese vessels surrounded the surveillance ship Impeccable, 80 miles of Hainan Island. Both ships, of the Military Sealift Command, deploy towed sonar arrays to listen for submarines. By Andrew Scutro - Navy Times Staff writer

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