Navy Destroyer Collides with Tugboat off Japan, No Injuries Reported

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) and Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN) RSS Endurance (LST 207), participate in an exercise off the coast of Guam, Aug. 28, 2017. (Navy Photo by Benjamin A. Lewis)
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) and Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN) RSS Endurance (LST 207), participate in an exercise off the coast of Guam, Aug. 28, 2017. (Navy Photo by Benjamin A. Lewis)

A U.S. Navy destroyer sustained minimal damage after colliding with a Japanese tugboat off the coast of Japan, the service said.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) was participating in a towing exercise in Sagami Wan when the tugboat lost propulsion and drifted into the ship, according to a release from U.S. 7th Fleet.

"No one was injured on either vessel and Benfold sustained minimal damage, including scrapes on its side, pending a full damage assessment," the statement reads.

The destroyer remains at sea under her own power, while the Japanese commercial tug was towed by another vessel to a port in Yokosuka, according to the Navy.

The incident will be investigated, the Navy said.

It marks the latest collision involving a naval destroyer in the Pacific area of operations. Two other destroyer collisions this summer claimed the lives of 17 sailors.

The destroyer Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine-flagged tanker ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan on June 17, claiming the lives of seven sailors when compartments flooded. Two months later, on Aug. 21, the destroyer John S. McCain and Liberian-flagged container ship Alnic MC collided near the Straits of Malacca, causing the deaths of another 10 sailors.

After the deadly accidents, the Navy sacked a number of leaders in the 7th Fleet, including the commander, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, "due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.

Also relieved were Rear Adm. Charles Williams, the commander of Task Force 70, and Capt. Jeffrey Bennett, commander of Destroyer Squadron 15; the McCain's commanding officer, Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez, and executive officer, Cmdr. Jessie Sanchez; and the Fitzgerald's commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, and Cmdr. Sean Babbitt, the executive officer.

Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift also announced he would retire after learning he would not be tapped to lead U.S. Pacific Command.

-- Hope Hodge Seck and Richard Sisk contributed to this report.

-- Brendan McGarry can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.

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