Merchant ship hits oiler John Lenthall

The Military Sealift Command oiler John Lenthall was damaged Friday evening after being struck by a merchant vessel in Valletta, Malta.

There were no injuries to Lenthall’s 105-member civilian and military crew.

An initial investigation of the 678-foot-long, 27,000-ton Lenthall shows only limited damage to outside equipment and structures, said Cmdr. Cate Mueller, 6th Fleet spokeswoman.

Navy and MSC officials, she said, are investigating the extent of the damage to determine how long repairs will take.

Mueller said that the Lenthall arrived in Valletta on April 7 for a short maintenance period during a regularly scheduled deployment to the Mediterranean, which started in February.

The Lenthall is one of 14 MSC oilers and provides fuel to Navy ships at sea.

The oiler was pier side at the time of the accident.

Mueller said a merchant vessel leaving the harbor apparently lost steering control, crashed into another vessel and then struck Lenthall broadside.

Damage to the other vessels or possible injuries isn’t known, she said.

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