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. US Navy vessels involved in collision return to Bahrain
MANAMA, March 21 (AFP) Mar 21, 2009
A nuclear-powered US submarine and an amphibious vessel that collided in the strategic Strait of Hormuz and caused a fuel spill returned to Bahrain on Saturday, the US Navy said.

"USS Hartford (SSN 768) and USS New Orleans (LPD 18) arrived at Mina Salman pier to further assess and evaluate the damage that resulted from their collision at sea," the Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said.

The collision on Friday had left 15 sailors slightly injured, and caused 25,000 gallon (95,000 litre) spill of diesel when the The New Orleans' fuel tank ruptured.

The submarine's propulsion plant was unaffected, the Navy said on Saturday, adding that the incident remains under investigation.

The statement said aerial searches of the area where the fuel was spilled revealed no indication of any remaining fuel on the ocean's surface.

"The quick dissipation of the fuel is likely due to the type of fuel and various environmental factors to include air and weather temperatures, winds and seas," the statement said.

Both vessels are currently on regularly scheduled deployments to the US Fifth Fleet area of operations conducting Maritime Security Operations.

The Strait of Hormuz, less than 100 kilometres (60 miles) at its widest point, separates Oman from Iran and is the gateway into the oil-rich Gulf.

An estimated 40 percent of the world's crude oil passes through the strait on the way to market.

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