USS Eisenhower Collision

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On the morning of August 29, 1988, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower was returning to her homeport in Norfolk after conducting a six-month deployment in the Mediterranean Sea. She had performed extremely well in exercises and was set to receive the Battle “E.” The carrier had recently taken on approximately 500 Tigers in Bermuda, joining their parents for the final leg of the voyage. Also, the Secretary of the Navy was aboard that morning, and had been present on the bridge prior to his departure at 0807. 14 minutes later, at 0821 according to the deck log, the Eisenhower struck the Spanish bulk carrier Urduliz, which was anchored in a designated anchorage area, “A,” in berth “Z.”

As stated above, the Eisenhower had not been in Hampton Roads in six months. While deployed in the Mediterranean, the Entrance Reach Channel was narrowed and moved slightly northward on March 30th, 1988.The crew of the Eisenhower was informed of the changes, but had yet to navigate the channel in its new configuration until the morning of August 29th. The track that the Eisenhower was to follow led along the northern edge of the previous configuration of the channel, which should have put her 400 yards off the anchored Urduliz. That morning, visibility was at least 5 miles, and the bridge watch was aware of the Urduliz for at least 30 minutes prior to the collision. However, the Eisenhower was off track the according to radar fixes between 0810 and 0817, during which time no visual fixes were taken. The reason for the lack of the more accurate visual fixes was that when the new buoys were placed to delineate the reconfigured channel, they were quite literally few and far between. Such placement made it extremely difficult to take visual fixes. The two key ...

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