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The U.S. Navy is continuing to search for survivors from a small boat that collided with the USS John F. Kennedy in the Persian Gulf on Thursday.

The aircraft carrier was conducting night-flight missions in support of operations in Iraq when a dhow struck its starboard side at about 10:20 p.m., said Cmdr. Jamie Graybeal, 5th Fleet spokesman, in a telephone interview from Manama, Bahrain.

No Kennedy personnel were injured, and Graybeal said an investigation is under way that may determine how the dhow managed to approach the carrier.

Graybeal said that at this time there is nothing to indicate the incident is anything more than an accident.

The carrier and HMS Somerset, a British warship, launched helicopters and small boats to search for dhow crewmembers. Also assisting are Navy P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft from Bahrain.

A debris field has been located, but no survivors or remains have been found. Graybeal said he did not know the size of the dhow or how many people may have been aboard.

The Kennedy, deployed to the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility under the command of the 5th Fleet, arrived in the gulf earlier this month. The Mayport, Fla.-based carrier flew its first operational mission in the gulf July 10, Graybeal said.

In October 2000, 17 sailors died after suicide attackers detonated explosives on a small boat they had brought alongside the USS Cole destroyer as it refueled in the Yemeni port of Aden.


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