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Destroyer USS Benfold Damaged After Collision with Japanese Tug

USS Benfold (DDG-65) and Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN) RSS Endurance (LST 207), participate in a PHOTOEX during Exercise Pacific Griffin 2017. US Navy Photo

The guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG-65) was hit by a Japanese tug during a towing exercise on Saturday, according to a statement from U.S. 7th Fleet.

The forward-deployed destroyer was in the midst of a towing exercise in the Sagami Bay when the tug lost power and, “drifted into the ship.”

“No one was injured on either vessel and Benfold sustained minimal damage, including scrapes on its side, pending a full damage assessment. Benfold remains at sea under her own power,” read the statement from 7th Fleet.
“The Japanese commercial tug is being towed by another vessel to a port in Yokosuka. The incident will be investigated.”

The incident comes as the Navy is struggling with the aftermath of two fatal collisions between merchant ships and the destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) that claimed the lives of 17 sailors. The Navy found both incidents were preventable.

The Navy is instituting changes found in a fleet-wide comprehensive review of the surface navy that was released in early November. A strategic review of U.S. surface forces, led by the Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer, is due out early next month.

The following is the complete statement from U.S, 7th Fleet.

YOKOSUKA, Japan (Nov. 18, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) was participating in a scheduled towing exercise in Sagami Wan Nov. 18, when the tug boat lost propulsion and drifted into the ship.

No one was injured on either vessel and Benfold sustained minimal damage, including scrapes on its side, pending a full damage assessment. Benfold remains at sea under her own power. The Japanese commercial tug is being towed by another vessel to a port in Yokosuka. The incident will be investigated.

Benfold is forward deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia- Pacific.



  • Do the Jingle, Like a Good neighbor………

  • Ed L

    Check the seams where the fuel tanks meet other compartments. One ship I was on we got tapped by a Tugboat which was towing a barge and the tug lost power. A couple of months later a welded seam ruptured and DFM mixed with laundry compounds which cause a chemical reaction that blew out a bulkhead into Our Aft steering Explosion, Flash Fire and toxic fumes What a mess. we had to medivac 4 sailors with serious burns to an Italian Hospital

    • Rocco


  • D. Jones

    Maybe it’s time to reactivate the Iowas, simply for the survivability of armor.

    Considering the costs of destroyers, four with survivable hulls would be a bargain. Scoop out everything inside and drop destroyer/cruiser guts into them.

    • Mentok The Mindtaker

      Please tell me you’re not serious. Please.

      • D. Jones

        Please tell me your better idea. Please.

        We’ve got this “lighter, faster, more fuel efficient” mantra that gifts us with marine wonders like the LCS with Prius-level armor.

        Their supposed to be WARships, not eco-challenge solar dinghies.

        Heck drop a pair of A1B’s in for propulsion. Then they could keep up with the flattops at WOT.

        Serious? Yeah, half-serious. We flush gazillions on planes with 3D helmets that don’t work, what’s a couple billion for ultra-heavy cruisers that survive inattentive OOD’s & MIA watch? So they plow into something or get plowed into. The other ship crumples and / or sinks and we don’t look like idiots monopolizing all the assets of Dockwise.

        • Horn

          No amount of reasonable armor is going to protect you from a 30k ton ship, and armor isn’t going to do anything to help you against a modern 1000 lb cruise missile. Size and compartmentalization are the only things that can enhance survivability in the event of a hit. The Iowas armor just can’t stand up to modern ASCMs, but it’s compartmentalization and size would help, just like our aircraft carriers. Look up information about the collision between the Wisconsin and the Eaton. They ended up replacing the entire bow of that Iowa BB just because it hit a destroyer.

          • Mk-Ultra

            they should build a warship with the sole purpose of just ramming into enemy ships

          • Hey been done, the greek and Romans practiced it. Also, most early Iron Clad ships had ram type bows. As for gutting the BB’s. No way. First all the internal turret armor would would cause such deformation and change the displacement so much that the ships would float so much higher that they probably capsize. It should also be noted that both destroyers survived. So did the Cole, Samual Roberts, and one other (I forgot the name). It’s not only the ships but the crews training, guts, and professionalism. Hey we might need a drum better, “faster ramming speed, faster, boom, boom, boom – crash. MMCS(SW)(SS)USN Ret.

          • Bill

            USS Stark was the “other one.”

          • Thanks had a “Senior” chief moment…getting old.

          • Rocco

            lol copy that!!

          • Langston Smith II

            Don’t forget about the USS Rangers’ (CV-61) collision with a merchant ship in either 80 or 81. My dad was aboard her as an O-3 in the Dental Dept. at the time.

            I remember reading about it (and seeing pictures of the damaged bow) in the cruise book when he came back from WESTPAC that year.

          • El Kabong

            Yeah, sure.

            They won’t be shot to pieces as they try to run in on their target…

          • Rocco

            Agreed!! And luckily we saved the keil of the montan that wasn’t finished to replace it with!! I boarded the Wisconsin in the Philly yards for a reenlistment ceremony!! What beautiful ships we built back then!!

          • Horn

            It was actually the bow to the USS Kentucky, an unfinished Iowa-class used as a parts ship. The Montana-class was never laid down.

        • Luke Shaver

          The amount of armor needed to stop a modern anti-ship missile would be ridiculous to put on a ship, most modern naval vessels lack armor completely except for ballistic protection. These destroyers are far more survivable than a LCS.

          • El Kabong

            Uh oh… You dissed’ the LCS.

            Now you will incur the wrath of Duane, the LCS cheerleader.

        • El Kabong

          Please, try learning about why the Iowas were retired.

          The crew for one BB can crew FOUR destroyers.

        • Colin Campbell

          The cost of reactivating a battleship is high enough that it makes more sense to build new from scratch. The 16″ guns on a battleship are outranged by just about every anti-ship missile in existence. And speaking of 16″ guns – the turret on the Iowa cannot be repaired.

          The battleships are worn out and the Iowa was cannibalized to provide parts for the other two. Their propulsion plants are way obsolete – and need to be replaced before the ships can enter active service. And then you have to deal with the fact that the USS Zimwalt armed with railguns will sink any battleship from 100 miles away.

          If you’re going to spend the money it would take to get the battleships into a condition where they can actually be used in combat – you’re better off designing and building a new ship from scratch.

          • Rocco

            Agreed not to mention anyone in service today is to young to know what works on them or do we have any powder bags & 16″ rounds or anyone The knows how to shoot the guns!! Except the old timers that volunteer on the 4 ships!!

        • Sean

          Bear in mind that Wisconsin lost 60 feet of her bow after a collision with a destroyer. Any serious collision is a mission kill for any ship and an Iowa would probably be even more expensive to repair.

          • Rocco

            Unless minor surface steel anything else isn’t in existence to my knowledge!

        • Duane

          The better idea is to not collide with other ships.

    • Maybe not the Iowas, but perhaps we should be considering adding heavy cruiser level armor to future designs. It is a bit worrying how little it takes to put a DDG out of action.

      • Rocco

        Today’s ships propulsion wouldn’t handle the weight like older steam boiler turbines systems!

      • Duane

        Armor is useless. You can’t put ASM-proof armor on every surface from the waterline up, and belt armor won’t protect against a torpedo detonated under the keel, or against the rudder and props at the sterm (which is what got the Bismarck)..

        Today’s “armor” consists of anti-ASM and anti-torpedo fires, from various ranges layered together, along with physical countermeasures (chaff and sono generators) and electronic countermeasures.

        • No, you can’t ASM-proof the entire ship – just like you can’t shell-proof an entire battleship or bullet-proof an entire infantryman. That doesn’t make armor useless. You can implement a modern interpretation of all-or-nothing armor that protects critical systems and preserves buoyancy.

          Active defenses and countermeasures are good but not even their manufacturers claim they are 100%. What happens when they fail? Or worse, they are turned off like on Sheffield, Stark, and Hanit? Further, dramatic improvements in passive survivability could act as a form of virtual attrition, upending the conclusions of the Salvo Equation and forcing the enemy to employ more and larger weapons.

          • Duane

            There are certain portions of a ship containing critical gear or activity centers that can be and usually are armored. But we’re talking here about the proposal to go to heavy battleship type warship designs with massive belt armor – and as was proved at the outset of World War Two, massive belt armor simply doesn’t work. The Bismarck and the Pearl Harbor attacks proved that once and for all.

            The best protection for surface ships are aerial defense systems- including carrier based aircraft – and ASW systems.

        • Da Facts

          No, armor is not useless. Armor changes the nature of the weapons that can be used against it.
          The more correct argument is armor may or may not be worth the cost in trade offs required to equip it.

    • Da Facts

      The hull of the Iowa class is not much thicker than the hull of a destroyer. The armor belts are NOT the hull, but are installed inside the hull.

      • Rocco

        The armor belts are on the outside of the hull!!

        • Da Facts

          No, not on the Iowa’s (or the South Dakota’s) the Belts were inside the hull.

    • Rocco

      Maybe it’s time for stupid commenters to get ship construction training course!!!

    • Duane

      Armor isn’t for collision protection – it was strictly used as defense against incoming fires. And as it turned out, armor didn’t do much good anyway, as dive bombing and torpedo attacks still took out even the heaviest BBs in the world, repeatedly (see Bismarck, USS Arizona, IJN Yamato, etc.)

  • George Hollingsworth

    I am confused. The destroyer was being towed and the tugboat (?) lost power and the destroyer glided into the tug, or what?

    • Luke Shaver

      No the tug boat drifted into the destroyer.

      • Curtis Conway

        AND, upon hearing that the tug lost power on Ch16 ‘did nothing’ to prevent contact? What ever happened to qualified ship-drivers? You don’t have to snap the lines but you sure CAN stay away from making contact. I am SO DISAPPOINTED in our Bridge Officers these days.

        • Rocco

          Agreed!!! Guess they don’t practice emergency breakaway!!! What’s gonna happen at an unrep next?? Ridiculous!!

        • Duane

          We don’t really know many details yet as to what happened and why, so it’s premature to blame the DDG’s bridge crew for this one.

          • Curtis Conway

            Can’t blame the unit without power. Those that have ability and do nothing have acountability.

          • Duane

            Apparently according to the updated report, the tug had power, and then messed up the towing cable operation by wrapping it around their prop(s). Depending on how much cable was paid out, and the fact that both vessels were underway at slow speed, the momentum of the DDG could have pulled the tug via the fouled cable into the DDGs hull. You indicate that the DDG could have somehow maneuvered out of the way, but that is not clear at all based upon public information. Any sudden maneuvers by the DDG could have made the collision worse, not less worse.

            Again, don’t draw sweeping conclusions when you don’t have actual information to base it on.

          • Curtis Conway

            Perhaps, but as you indicate, the DDG was not encumbered with a fouled prop (e.g., maneuverable) and the unencumbered vessel is the Only One that can affect this situation. Timely and accurate communications of intentions and actions (CH16) is crucial in these cases, unless rules and regulations prevent you from protecting your crew and the vessel.

      • Duane

        That may not be an accurate description of what happened (we don’t know).

        It is reported that the towing cable got fouled in the tug’s prop(s) while both vessels were underway in parallel at slow speed with the cable being slack (i.e., the tug dropped aff to create slack). With the tug suddenly no longer under its own propulsion, and with the cable still attached to the bow of the DDG which still had forward way on , it’s quite possible that the DDG unavoidably pulled the fouled cable forward which would tend to draw the tug – having at this point essentially become the towed vessel – laterally into the hull of the DDG. It was also reported that the strike was amidships … that would seem to support the scenario I describe here.

        Is it still possible that the DDG bridge crew or deck crew made an error during the exercise? Yes. But we simply don’t know that yet.

  • Steve Richter

    our ship could not get out of the way?

  • RTColorado

    Good news…nobody died, but this doesn’t sound like it turned out like it should have. If I’m in Congress I’d be telling the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines that they’ll have to make do with what they have now because they keep breaking stuff and until they learn how to play with their stuff and not break everything, they’ll just have to make do with what they have…then let’s fire a bunch of Admirals and Generals and look for new talent. This crap has to get sorted out, repaired and avoided.

    • Rocco

      The only thing that you said to be true was the 1st 4 words thank god!! You need to rethink the rest of your post as you suggest services to take uncontrollable risks on tax payers dime!!! Seriously!! Not to mention damage or life & death!!

      • RTColorado

        I’m only guessing here, because I don’t know you personally…you’ve never spent anytime on a large working vessel at sea, have you ? Because only someone who hasn’t could delude themseves into believing the collison between a Tug Boat adrift and a US Navy Destroyer under way could not be avoided. If the Destroyer was tied up or had no means of manuever, okay maybe the collison was unavoidable…but that’s not the case here. This most recent event is just further confirmation that the services are literally falling apart, running into each other or crashing into something else. Just go back twelve months and count the dollars and lives wasted through “mistakes and bad judgement” and then get back to us with your thoughts.

  • Kenneth Millstein

    Now I get the idea, there has to be something in the water (sorta like the water that possess people) in the seas in the far east! What other explanation could there be for all of the “accidents” that have happened in the last six months. This is not funny, it has cost lives and treasure which we can no longer afford to lose. We as a country and navy have got to get to the bottom of this ASAP!

    • Rocco

      Fire the skipper period!! Replacing the three star commander of pasific fleet & commodore didn’t fix anything!! Which means to me mores to come because the Destroyer squadron’s don’t know anything about basic sea keeping!!

      • Kenneth Millstein

        Earlier in the year I would never have said fire the skipper or the three star commander, but now I must say that I agree with you about the both the firing’s and the need of better sea keeping skills. I served on a Destroyer from 1967 to late1968 as a Quartermaster and I was very involved on the bridge with the CO, XO, OOD and both the helmsmen and lee helmsmen and it would be very safe to say that ALL of us were VERY well trained in sea keeping skills. We spent three months in and around the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Naval Base for refresher training in ALL of our skills BEFORE deploying to the western pacific for gunfire support duty off of the coast of South Vietnam.

        Having said that, I would like to know if our enlisted men and officers of today are trained up like we were before any deployment. From what I have read and heard about over the last four of five months, I think it is possible that today’s Navy doesn’t allow for the time required to trained up the crews PRIOR to deployments. If I am correct I hope that they will do so ASAP.

  • CHENG1087

    Navy PR needs to get out in front of this. We have always exercised at “tow and be towed.” It was an integral part of “Refresher Training (REFTRA),” but in my experience (1960s-1980s) it was always an all-USN exercise, not with civilian tugs. There are two fundamental areas of training in a “tow and be towed” exercise — shiphandling and “marlinspike seamanship.”

    Rigging a ship to be towed is a complicated, dangerous “marlinspike seamanship” evolution for a ship’s deck force — lacerations, bruises, crushed fingers, fractured shins, etc., are the real threats to personnel. Depending on the classes of ships involved, Boatswain’s Mates are dealing with heavy, cumbersome towing bridles, chains, towing hawsers, etc., all delivered from ship-to-ship via “the hard way” — hand-tended lines. It is difficult work, fraught with physical danger, and it needs to be periodically practiced.

    The other half of the equation is developing shiphandling skill in maneuvering the “tow” ship so that the towing rig can be passed to the “be towed” ship without either losing the rig overboard, or — more likely — fowling the towing hawser in the “tow” ship’s screws (an unfortunate, personal experience.) Practice doing the real thing is the only way to develop this skill.

    The “armchair commodores” on this site need to do a little homework.

    • waveshaper1

      Great post; If folks want to actually see how this type of incident happens in a towing situation then Google; “Youtube – US NAVY ships crash at sea Part 1”.
      – This video covers (close up and personal) a TOWEX (USS Downes and the USS Fletcher in the Pacific Ocean) that didn’t go as planned, tow line got tangled in the prop/shaft and resulted in a wee bit of bumping/damage to both ships.

      I read another report on this “USS Benfold and Tug bumping incident/accident”. The report stated that the tugboat “specifically” lost propulsion not power and then drifted into the USS Benfold. I wouldn’t be surprised if the tow line/cable/chain got wrapped around the tugs prop/shaft which typically = lose of propulsion and would probably require divers to fix/repair the damage/remove the entanglement.

      • CHENG1087

        My fiasco was a “tow and be towed” exercise in 1981 with a twin screw DLG and our single screw FF. We attempted to tow first, but seriously fouled our single screw with the hawser. Now it was an “actual” exercise! The DLG then attempted to tow us, but quickly fouled their port screw with the hawser. The DLG cut us loose, said “sorry ‘bout that” and promptly steamed off back to San Diego on their starboard shaft. We drifted alone off San Clemente for nearly four hours with our amateur divers over the side, chopping away at the twisted hawser. Our CO then personally went over the side with an air line hose mask, just to be sure we were clear. (He became a legend with the crew!) We arrived back in SD about 2100. I understand there was a big punch-up in the Westerner in National City that night between our crew and our “friends” from the DLG!

  • kye154

    Gee! Seems like the U.S. Navy is doing a fine job of damaging its own vessels before any war starts. One more ship off the line. I am sure the North Koreans are thrilled about this. Really wonder how well the U.S. Navy would actually fare in a hot war? Perhaps they will run into each other, and call the miliitary operation a “Chinese fire drill”? I am really surprised that the three carriers haven’t collided with each other yet, particularly when they had their photo op back 2 weeks ago.

    • OldHickory21

      Well, aircraft carriers fall under the Naval Air Command where they are apparently still training their ship drivers….whereas most of the rest of surface forces fall under Naval Surface Forces where someone made the decision to just stop training people and replace a 16 week Basic SWOS course with a DVD, a handshake, and a “good luck with your OJT out there in the Fleet.”

  • BlueSky47

    Good thing the Navy ship wasn’t an LCS, a major wee bump like that would’ve split it’s back and send it straight to Davie Jones locker.

    • OldHickory21

      Funny but prob true…..it’s kind of a toy ship. I think Roman Abromavich’s yacht is bigger than our LCS…….yes, I looked it up, Roman Abromavich’s yacht Eclipse is 533 ft long and LCS Freedom is 372 ft.

      • BlueSky47

        and I betcha a dollar his yacht has more weapons than the LCS does LOLOLOL