USS Benfold, a guided missile destroyer sustained ‘minimal’ damage when a Japanese tug boat lost propulsion and drifted into the US Navy ship in Sagami Bay, southwest of Tokyo Saturday.
The incident occurred during a towing exercise when the drifting tug boat scraped past the US Navy vessel, the Navy said in a statement adding that the incident would be investigated.
No one was injured on either vessel. The commercial tug boat was towed to a port in Yokosuka, the home of the Navy's Japan-based 7th Fleet while the USS Benfold remained at sea under its own power.
The 7th Fleet has had two fatal accidents in Asian waters this year, leaving 17 sailors dead and prompting the removal of eight top Navy officers from their posts, including the 7th Fleet commander.
The USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided near Singapore in August, leaving 10 U.S. sailors dead. Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided off Japan.
The Navy has concluded that the collisions were avoidable and resulted from widespread failures by the crews and commanders, who didn't quickly recognize and respond to unfolding emergencies.
Some media reports blame increased activity by the US Navy in crowded shipping lanes of Asia to pursue its ‘freedom of navigation’ policy, as reasons for the accidents.