U.S. Destroyer Collides With Iranian Oil Ship in Persian Gulf

An Iranian oil vessel collided with a U.S. Navy destroyer Friday in the northern Persian Gulf, punching a two-foot gash in the destroyer's side but causing no injuries, U.S. military officials said.

The USS Paul Hamilton was in no danger and continued operating after the collision, the officials said. The hole in the all-steel hull was above the water line.

Officials said there did not appear to be any hostile intent in the collision.

The American ship was attempting to conduct a maritime intercept of the Iranian ship when the collision happened. Officials said it was unclear what happened. In a maritime intercept, the U.S. ship would have approached the targeted ship to communicate and possibly to board it. Details in this case were sketchy.

There was no immediate word on the condition of the Iranian ship, which was described as an oil vessel but not a tanker.

The Paul Hamilton has been conducting maritime intercept operations in the Gulf in support of the global war on terrorism. The collision was at 8:24 p.m. local time (12:24 p.m. EST). It is under investigation.

The Paul Hamilton, whose home port is Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is part of the USS Abraham Lincoln battle group patrolling the Persian Gulf. The battle group is scheduled to return to the United States this month.

The destroyer is 505 feet long and has 32 officers and 313 enlisted sailors aboard. It was commissioned in 1995 and is in the Arleigh Burke class of destroyers. One of its sister ships, the USS Cole, was rammed by terrorists while refueling in Aden, Yemen, in October 2000, killing 17 sailors.

The Paul Hamilton is equipped with radar systems designed to detect seaborne and airborne threats at great distances. It is armed with Harpoon anti-ship missiles, Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles and Standard anti-aircraft missiles.