Navy investigating research ship accident that injured at least 14
Stars and Stripes April 10, 2023
Navy investigators are still determining how more than a dozen workers were injured three weeks ago in an accident involving a Navy-owned research vessel in dry dock in Scotland.
The Motor Vessel Petrel slipped off its holdings at the Port of Leith on March 22 and came to rest on its side at an angle of about 45 degrees.
A team led by the Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center is on site and evaluating the situation, James Stossel, a spokesman for the Port Hueneme, Calif.-based command, said in a statement Friday.
He added that 14 workers were injured. News outlets including the BBC had reported as many as 33 people were hurt, some seriously.
Stossel didn’t specify the damage to the vessel, citing the ongoing investigation. He also couldn’t provide more details about the team or its mission except to say Navy personnel and contract experts worldwide were involved.
The Navy purchased Petrel in September 2022 for $12.4 million to support the service’s efforts in maritime security, Stossel said. It was undergoing maintenance and preparations to meet Navy requirements, he said.
The ship was commissioned by philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, according to the vessel's Facebook page.
In a tweet at the time of the accident, Edinburgh city councilor for Leith Adam McVey said the ship had been knocked off its supports by high winds. But the BBC said in a March 23 report that winds were an unlikely cause.
Stossel didn't say specifically how the Navy plans to use Petrel, but earlier this year the British military took delivery of the first of two similar ships designed to help protect undersea cables and pipelines from sabotage, Defense News reported Jan. 20.
Petrel previously was used primarily for underwater research and exploration, focusing on locating shipwrecks and exploring the underwater ecosystem, according to its Facebook page.
It is credited with finding several World War II wrecks, including the destroyer USS Johnson, the carrier USS Wasp and the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis, USNI News reported March 22.
In 2018, a Navy-led mission aboard Petrel mapped the wreckage of a C-2A Greyhound plane that crashed into the Philippine Sea en route to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in November 2017.
Three sailors were killed in the crash. The Navy recovered the wreckage in June 2019.