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Navy cargo ship runs aground in Bahrain

No one onboard the USNS Alan Shepard was hurt in the incident.
Nicholas Slayton Avatar
The USNS Alan Shepard in 2019. (Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Kenji Shiroma, courtesy U.S. Navy)

The U.S. Navy is investigating why and how one of its cargo ships ran aground in Bahrain this weekend. 

The USNS Alan Shepard, a 210-meter-long Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship, left a shipyard in Al Hidd, Bahrain on Saturday, July 15, traveling toward the Khalfa bin Salman port when it struck ground and came to a halt. 

The cargo vessel had approximately 85 people onboard when it ran aground; no one was reported injured, a 5th Fleet spokesman told Stars & Stripes.

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The Navy refloated the ship on Sunday, July 16 using tugboats, and the Alan Shepard was anchored off of the Khalifa bin Salman port after it was pulled free. The 5th Fleet is now assessing the extent of the damage the Alan Shepard received, while the ship remains in place. As of press time, the 5th Fleet has not responded to Task & Purpose’s query on the status of the vessel and if the incident will impact operations. 

The USNS Alan Shepard entered service in 2007. As a cargo ship it generally carries ammunition for resupplying ships out at sea. 

Ships running aground can be seriously damaging. The guided-missile cruiser the USS Antietam ran aground in 2017, heavily damaging its propellers and spilling 1,100 gallons of fuel in the waters near Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan. An investigation later found the ship’s captain responsible for the incident. 

There have also been several near misses in bays and ports between ships. Last year a pair of Navy ships almost collided inside San Diego Bay. 

The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet oversees naval operations in the Middle East and has been stepping up patrols and operations in the waters around the region. That decision comes after a series of incidents involving Iranian ships that have attempted to seize oil tankers moving through the waters in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman. The Navy said that over the last two years Iran “has harassed, attacked or interfered with the navigational rights” of ships in the area. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Thomas Hudner most recently arrived in the area on Friday, on a mission to support the 5th Fleet’s activities. The American military also said that it was deploying F-16s to assist in the patrols. 

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