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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Freighter dings MSDF destroyers in Vietnam

Staff writer

Two Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers were hit by a Vietnamese freighter Tuesday at the port of Ho Chi Minh City, the second accident there in two days involving MSDF vessels, MSDF officials said.

The successive collisions occurred at 9:27 a.m. Japan time, the MSDF said. It was still confirming the details but said no injuries had been reported.

The 3,050-ton Hamayuki, which brushed a Cambodian cargo ship Monday, and the 2,950-ton Matsuyuki were both being anchored when the Vietnamese-registered Hailong 45 brushed the Hamayuki first at 9:27 a.m. and then the Matsuyuki two minutes later.

The MSDF said it took less than five minutes to report the accident to Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba and Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, an indication of an improvement in the reporting system.

The Defense Ministry said it took 80 minutes for the initial report of Monday's accident to reach Ishiba, while the MSDF was criticized when Ishiba was informed of the Feb. 19 accident involving the Aegis destroyer Atago and a fishing boat off Chiba Prefecture about 90 minutes after it happened.

"Since the Atago accident, we have been cautious on navigational safety, and it is regrettable that these accidents happened despite such efforts," Adm. Eiji Yoshikawa, the top MSDF commander, told a news conference Tuesday.

Both destroyers suffered minor damage in the Monday and Tuesday mishaps, including a bent flagpole and scratches, MSDF officials said.

Yoshikawa said senior MSDF officers will meet Saturday to discuss why the MSDF has been involved in the spate of accidents.

Meanwhile, the MSDF said its destroyers engaged in the search for the two missing fishermen in the Atago accident would terminate the search Tuesday. The MSDF will continue the search with aircraft, Yoshikawa said.

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The Japan Times

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