Strait of Hormuz open after tanker, U.S. navy ship collide

DUBAI/MUSCAT Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:09am EDT

1 of 5. Navy personnel survey the damage on Guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) after a collision with the Japanese owned bulk oil tanker M/V Otowasan in the Strait of Hormuz in this handout photo released to Reuters on August 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Sunderman/Handout

DUBAI/MUSCAT (Reuters) - An oil tanker collided with a U.S. Navy ship near the Strait of Hormuz on Sunday but no one was hurt and shipping traffic in the waterway, through which 40 percent of the world's seaborne oil exports pass, was not affected, officials said.

"Both vessels are okay and the Strait of Hormuz is not closed, and business is as usual there," an Oman coastguard official told Reuters, declining to be named.

The Bahrain-based U.S. Fifth Fleet said the Panamanian-flagged, Japanese-owned bulk oil tanker M/V Otowasan collided with the USS Porter, a guided-missile destroyer, in the early hours of Sunday.

The navy vessel remained able to operate under its own power after the collision, which was not combat-related, the statement added without elaborating on how the accident happened. An investigation was underway.

Photographs released by the U.S. Navy showed a large dent, several meters (yards) high, in the starboard side of the USS Porter just in front of the ship's superstructure and above the waterline. Personnel hung over the side inspecting the damage.

Tensions have risen in the Gulf this year as Iran has threatened to close the strait to international shipping if its dispute with the United States over its nuclear program escalates. Washington says it maintains naval forces in the Gulf to ensure security in the region.

The oil tanker, owned by Japan's Mitsui OSK, was bound for the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah from Mesaieed in Qatar, according to ship tracking websites.

(Reporting by Andrew Hammond, Raissa Kasolowsky and Saleh al-Shaibany; Writing by Amran Abocar and Andrew Torchia; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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