A nuclear-powered U.S. submarine and an amphibious vessel collided in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday slightly injuring 15 sailors and creating a fuel spill, the U.S. Navy said.
"The collision between USS Hartford (SSN 768) and USS New Orleans (LPD 18) occurred at approximately 1:00 am local time (2030 GMT on Thursday)," the Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said.
"Fifteen sailors aboard the Hartford were slightly injured and returned to duty. No personnel aboard New Orleans were injured," it added.
The New Orleans' fuel tank ruptured, causing a 25,000 gallon (95,000 liter) spill of diesel fuel but the propulsion plant of the submarine was unaffected, the statement said.
Both ships are operating under their own power and the overall damage to both vessels is being evaluated, the statement added.
Navy spokesman Lieutenant Nathan Christensen told AFP "we are trying to evaluate the spill and find out whether it has dissipated."
He added that the incident "has not affected the shipping" running through the strait.
The Strait of Hormuz, less than 100 kilometers (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.
Both the submarine and the ship are on regularly scheduled deployments to the U.S. Navy Central Command area of responsibility, the navy said.
The Hartford is a Los Angeles class nuclear-powered fast attack submarine, with a displacement of approximately 6,900 tons, according to the U.S. Navy website. With a crew of 13 officers and 121 enlisted men, it is based in Groton, Connecticut.
Closing the Strait of Hormuz
The 360 foot (110 meter) long vessel is armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles and MK48 torpedoes.
The diesel-powered New Orleans is a San Diego class amphibious transport dock with a displacement of around 24,900 tons and a crew of 28 officers and 333 enlisted men.
The 684 feet (206 meter) long vessel is armed with Bushmaster II 30 mm guns and rolling airframe missile launchers.
Ships from the Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, patrol a 7.5 million square mile (19.4 million square kilometer) area of eastern Africa, the Middle East and Southwest Asia.
Last August, the commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said Iran's arsenal meant it could easily close the Strait.
"Given the length of Iran's coast in the Strait of Hormuz area and its special geographical position ... Iran has a natural strategic advantage," he was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.
"And given the equipment our armed forces have, an indefinite blockade of the Strait of Hormuz would be very easy."