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UPDATED: U.S. Guided-Missile Cruiser, Navy Supply Ship Involved in Minor Collision Off of Florida

USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55) departs Naval Station Norfolk, Va. in 2018. US Navy Photo

This post was updated to include a statement from U.S. Fleet Forces Command and additional details about damage to the ships.

A U.S. guided-missile cruiser and Navy resupply ship have collided off the coast of Florida during a training exercise on Tuesday, USNI News has learned.

USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55) and USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE-5) collided during a training exercise as part of a pre-deployment workup at about 4 p.m. EST. There were no casualties and only minor damage above the waterline to both ships, three sources familiar with the collision told USNI News. A Navy official told USNI News that the supply ship suffered an 8-inch gash above the waterline and Leyte Gulf suffered minor damage to flight-deck netting and two lifeboats were dislodged. Neither ship took on water.

“No personnel were injured when a U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser and dry cargo ship made contact during an underway replenishment off the southeastern coast of the United States, Feb. 5,” U.S. Fleet Forces Command said in a statement to USNI News following an earlier version of this post.
“USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55) and USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE-5) were able to safely operate after the incident. Damage will be assessed when the ships pull into port.”

The pair were conducting a planned turn together during an underway replenishment when the sterns of the two ships brushed together. Underway replenishments, in which ships take on supplies while on the move, are among the most dangerous tasks a warship can perform in peacetime. Ships can operate as close as 150 feet from each other during an UNREP.

The ships were operating with aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) as part of a training exercise when the collision occurred, USNI News has learned.

Leyte Gulf and Peary are expected to rejoin the exercise next week, a Navy official told USNI News.

The Lincoln Carrier Strike Group has been operating off the East Coast of the U.S. since Jan. 25 as part of its Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX). This is the final exercise and certification event ahead of the deployment, and it is meant to show the entire group – the carrier, the air wing, the destroyer squadron and the cruiser – can come together and successfully execute the range of missions they could be asked to conduct during a deployment. The COMPTUEX was expected to last several weeks, and the strike group will likely deploy in the late March or early April timeframe.

Tuesday’s incident is much less severe than a spate of ship collisions in 2017 in the Western Pacific – two fatal and two non-fatal – that resulted in the combined deaths of 17 sailors.

Following two reviews into the collisions, the Navy has been on a campaign to improve the safety and performance of its surface fleet.

USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE-5), center, conducts a dual replenishment-at-sea with the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and the amphibious landing dock ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) on Feb. 13, 2013. US Navy Photo

The following is the complete Feb. 5, 2019 statement from U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

No Injuries as Two U.S. Navy Vessels Involved in Minor Mishap Off East Coast

NORFOLK, Va. – No personnel were injured when a U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser and dry cargo ship made contact during an underway replenishment off the southeastern coast of the United States, Feb. 5.

USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) and USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE 5) were able to safely operate after the incident. Damage will be assessed when the ships pull into port.

The ships had been conducting a replenishment-at-sea when the sterns touched at approximately 4:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight time.

U.S. Fleet Forces Command and Military Sealift Command will thoroughly investigate this incident. The ships were conducting operations in conjunction with the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group.