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North County Coast : Enterprise Hits Reef Off Coast

A hole was punched in the bottom of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Enterprise Saturday evening when it apparently hit an underwater reef south of San Clemente Island, but only outer compartments of the ship were damaged, a Navy spokesman said Sunday.

The Alameda-based ship apparently hit a reef 100 miles west of San Diego at 6 p.m. Saturday, damaging voids and tanks at midship on the port side, said Senior Chief Petty Officer Fred Larsen.

No one was injured and only the “outer skin” of the hull was damaged, he said. The voids and tanks are used for overflow of fuel and sea water for ballast purposes.

The ship, which is in Southern California waters conducting routine aircraft training operations, halted air traffic temporarily, but Larsen said training should resume this week. An investigation was ordered to determine the cause of the mishap, and the carrier will return to its home port as scheduled in about one month.

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