‘Warship Chicken’: Two U.S. Navy Ships Narrowly Miss Collision in San Diego Bay

San Diego Web Cam/Twitter

Two U.S. Navy warships narrowly avoided collision earlier this week in the San Diego Bay, as seen in a video captured by a public web camera.

In the video, the USS Momsen, a $1.8 billion Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and the USS Harper’s Ferry, a $324 million-dollar dock-landing ship, are seen steaming towards each other, only to change course at the last minute.

Momsen was going inbound to the harbor, while Harper’s Ferry was going outbound. Harper’s Ferry is seen swerving left to avoid hitting the Momsen. Audio was also posted, which included apparent communication between the two ships.

The incident was unusual and not part of a training scenario. The Navy is investigating what happened.

U.S. Navy 3rd Fleet spokesman Lt. Sam Boyle said in a statement:

I can confirm that USS Momsen and USS Harper’s Ferry were transiting opposite directions in the San Diego bay Nov. 29 in close vicinity. Both ships maneuvered to safety. There were no injuries or damage to the ships as a result of those maneuvers. The incident is under investigation.

Professor and merchant mariner Sal Mercogliano said in a podcast analyzing the incident that the Harper’s Ferry began its turn too early, and the Momsen turned too late.

“There seems to blame on both sides,” he said. “Both vessels seem to have a fault here.”

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