Home » News & Analysis » UPDATED: Cruiser Lake Champlain Collides With South Korean Fishing Vessel That Lacked Radio, GPS

UPDATED: Cruiser Lake Champlain Collides With South Korean Fishing Vessel That Lacked Radio, GPS

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) prepares to pull alongside the Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8) for a replenishment-at-sea on April 30, 2017. US Navy photo.

Guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) and a South Korean fishing vessel collided in international waters east of the Korean Peninsula, the Navy said in a statement this morning. That fishing vessel lacked functioning radio or GPS and did not heed audio warnings, a defense official told USNI News.

Lake Champlain was conducting routine operations at the time of the collision with the 65-foot boat, 502 Nam Yang. No one was injured, and both ships were able to navigate under their own power afterwards.

The incident, which took place around 11:50 a.m. on May 9, 2017, local time, is under investigation by both the U.S. Navy and South Korean Coast Guard. Damage assessments are also underway, and the Navy statement did not comment on damage to Lake Champlain other than to say it was hit on the port side, amid ship. The defense official told USNI News that Lake Champlain appeared to have a small dent from the collision, and the fishing vessel had damage to its bow.

Visibility was limited during the time of the collision, the defense official said. Lake Champlain hailed the fishing vessel through its bridge-to-bridge communications with no success and sounded its horn, but the collision was not avoided. The cruiser was operating near USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) at the time.

Lake Champlain was operating in the area as part of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, which deployed to the Pacific in January and was redirected towards the Korean Peninsula last month to deal with rising tensions with North Korea.

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Categories: News & Analysis, U.S. Navy
Megan Eckstein

About Megan Eckstein

Megan Eckstein is a staff writer for USNI News. She previously covered Congress for Defense Daily and the U.S. surface navy and U.S. amphibious operations as an associate editor for Inside the Navy.

  • D. Jones

    11:50am local time? Middle of the day.

    Was everyone on a lunch break? Did we learn nothing from the Cole?

    • D. Jones

      Other reports say 4 mile visibility, calm sea state.

      “Lake Champlain appeared to have a small dent from the collision, and the fishing vessel had damage to its bow.”

      A Cruiser is pretty hard to miss, particularly one sounding collision warnings. From the initial damage report, sounds like it was rammed by the fishing boat.

      Small dents cost big bucks. Will USS Lake Erie or another Tico be sent to replace Lake Champlain?

      • lushr

        According to the JMA (as of this time), dense fog was present sporadically throughout the Sea of Japan east of South Korea. For example, in the Tsushima Straits,


        This report is repeated for more or less the entire Sea of Japan, so it’s not impossible that fog played a factor in the collision. I wonder if better information could be derived from AIS.

      • Paul Lindsey

        CBDR, constant or increasing speed? What was happening on the bridge?

      • tpharwell

        Perhaps an ‘After you, Alphonse’ type accident. Port-Port passage. Champlain obliged to maintain course and speed, quasi Little Rock. Quasi Andrea Doria & Stockholm. Fishing boat attempts to cross bow of cruiser. Matter of timing who sticks who.

    • NavySubNuke

      Seriously — good thing it was an actual fishing boat and not a bunch of NK spec ops types on a suicide mission.
      The crew does realize they are serving on a warship correct?

      • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

        Maybe the crew were busy debating the geopolitical ramifications of doing something to defend themselves, just like the excuse that got that young Lieutenant off the hook for surrendering his vessel to the Iranians last year.

        • NavySubNuke

          Either that or they were stuck in their mandatory transgender training, which is a real thing everyone in the Navy had to sit through thanks to Obama.

          • HappyEmeritus

            or figuring out who will pay for hookers after fat leonard went to jail .Old school navy thinking with their dicks.

          • Catdog

            Yep, and do not dare laugh at the videos.

        • redgriffin

          With visibility limited and the fishing vessel lacking GPS and onboard radar itself I wonder what the radar return on it was?

          • sferrin

            Certainly larger than an Iranian speedboat or a sea-skimming antiship missile.

          • redgriffin

            Are you sure the article says nothing about the size of the fishing vessel or even composition of the fishing boats hull wood or fiber glass would absorb radar pluses leaving the best look out to the sailor who has been issued 2 Eyeballs Mk1 the same thing one would need to track an Iranian Boston Whaler. AS for your sea-skimming missle not even the Stark or the Sheffield saw the missile that hit them .

        • Kim Chul Soo

          No kidding. We need our Navy back.

      • Western

        That new SK stealth and camo is a deadly configuration. I don’t suppose the Officer of the Deck was recently transferred from the Persian Gulf riverine squadron?

    • Paul Lindsey

      A cruiser could not get out of the way of a fishing boat?

      • DarwinsFlinch

        She’s over 500 feet. Not as nimble as you apparently imagine she should be.

        • Paul Lindsey

          I’m a retired SWO. I know exactly how nimble a gas turbine CG-47 class cruiser should be.

          • DarwinsFlinch

            Of course you are.

    • Donald Carey

      Try reading the article – the watch standers on the bridge did try to prevent the incident. Cruisers are not as nimble as a small boat – exactly what more could those on the bridge done short of opening fire?

  • DogoodPatriot

    The Navy could not get Congress to early retire half of the cruisers so they decide to go about it another way, tear them up. A few months ago one did its best impression of a beached whale and now one is out in the Pacific playing bumper cars. At first if you don’t succeed try try again. (sarcasm, but then again maybe not)

    • D. Jones

      That fishing boat would have sunk an LCS.

      Might have run over the Zumwalt.

      Wouldn’t have scratched the paint on a BB…

      • sferrin

        Zumwalt would have cut it in half.

  • Ed L

    I remember back in the day when DR and Celestial Navigation was used all the time. We use to stay clear of fishing vessels. Even if we did have the right of way. Skippers back then never trust them or Merchant vessels.

    • TransformerSWO

      And let’s be honest, back in the day we had collisions too. This isn’t some new thing that never happened before.

      • Ed L

        Out of 13 years on 4 Ships and several deployments. I only remember 2 collisions, One was during an UnRep when the Oiler lost steering (unprecedented steering gear failure) and hitting a bouy coming into a port. Now there were a couple of really close calls and one with one of those huge Crude Oil Carriers in the English Channel at night. An the other with the Kennedy (before the lighting change) in the Med. A Submarine in the fog. Tug losing power going along side the pier. All on Gator Freighters. Only on an Oiler the America lost steering during UnRep. We managed to keep our distance while getting our rigs back and getting rid of the Frigate on the starboard side. The skippers on those ships were all aviators with exception of the one when we hit the bouy was a Surface Warfare officer.

  • sferrin

    Guess it’s a good thing it wasn’t an Iranian speed boat. Jesus tap-dancing Christ.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Considering the inaction taken with the Iranian’s f*cking around provocatively with their boats, I think it is safe to say that a USN vessel will quite literally do nothing if another vessel is on a collision course with it.

    The DPRK know now what they need to do & how easy it would be to do it.

    • Jon Beck

      Obama would have simply sent a pallet of money to DPRK.

  • DaSaint

    Someone’s going to be relieved of command.

  • dpaul

    A terrible ending for the CO and yes it will be an ending.

  • Kenneth

    LOL Captain and Nav will be fired. Any bets?

    • Ed McCarthy

      Perhaps proximity to the carrier made the collision necessary to preclude the ship from advancing…and they were under fleet order to do so.

      • DarwinsFlinch

        Certainly possible. She would take the collision, a missile or torpedo for the carrier.

  • publius_maximus_III

    Screening mission accomplished: trawler did not reach the USS Carl Vinson…

    • Ed McCarthy

      Do have to wonder why the cruiser allowed the collision. Only reason could be yours, that ship was getting danger close to the carrier and had to take the hit. I guess we’ll see.

      • Robert Kail

        Having served on a DD and a CG and a CV I learned the one immutable fact of life….When in company with a carrier the main role of all other surface ships in the area is to support and protect the carrier to whatever extremes necessary. We need to get all the facts on this incident, if they are ever actually released.

        • publius_maximus_III

          Here’s a 2nd immutable fact of life: the CV’s have an unlimited supply of Ge-dunk, those little Tin Cans do not.

          • Robert Kail

            Of course! How else could they keep all those flyer type officers assigned as ship’s company in line!

        • HappyEmeritus

          That defines the role of escorts since torpedoes were invented. Congratulations for the most intelligent comment on the thread.

  • Jim Barden

    General Prudential Rule, anyone?

  • CHENG1087

    I admit that I am an “ancient mariner,” but have things changed that much over the years? Are there now separate sets of COLREGS for vessels with and without electronic communications and/or electronic navigation? As much as we used to fantasize about it, there still is no “Immutable Law of Gross Tonnage.”

  • gtman87

    Well, that CO’s career is over.

  • draeger24

    OOD’s shouldn’t be texting and driving.

  • Secundius

    Funny how USS Lake Champlain, DIDN’T see the Fishing Boat with it’s Radar’s. Unless the Fishing Boat was made TOTALLY of wood including the Fittings to Hold the Vessel Together. Probably a Ceramic Engine as well…

  • Ed L

    CBDR (constant bearing decreasing range) still sets a warning bell off in my head. I remember the USS Hermitage LSD-34 sunk that merchant ship off the Levant. lots of letters, reliefs, etc. Visibility was about 5 miles hazy

  • stoli5

    How about shoot the f*****ng bow off the offending vessel? What if the bow had been laden with explosives? WAR. SHIP.

  • Aardwulf

    Has anyone else noticed that all these events were strikes amidships on the Navy vessel? As in: *they* were struck–they didn’t cause the collision per se. If any of these PACOM incidents had resulted in a destroyer or cruiser cutting another ship in half (a la PT-109), then I might consider this the Navy’s fault. Sounds like these events where more like targeting a larger vessel for maximum damage. Paranoid? (Only if they’re NOT out to get you!)