updated 11/21/2006 12:57:31 AM ET 2006-11-21T05:57:31

A Japanese submarine collided with a civilian cargo ship during exercises in waters off southern Japan Tuesday, denting the military vessel but causing no injuries, officials said.

The Maritime Self-Defense Forces submarine grazed the civilian vessel during surfacing exercises about 30 miles off the southeastern coast of Miyazaki on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, a defense agency spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in accord with agency policy.

No injuries were reported among the 75 crew members of the submarine Asashio. But the spokesman said officials found a dent in the top part of the sub, the apparent result of striking the hull of the ship while surfacing.

The civilian vessel was identified as Panamanian-registered 4,000-ton Spring Auster, heading for China, Coast Guard spokesman Takatoshi Nagasaki said.

He said that none of its 17 crew members — 16 Philippine nationals and a South Korean — was injured, but the extent of the ship’s damage was not immediately known.

Coast Guard officials determined Spring Auster was the other vessel in the collision after spotting it and making radio contacts.

The cargo crew told the Japanese Coast Guard officials that they had felt a small impact but continued traveling because no other ship was in sight, Nagasaki said.

The direction the submarine was heading could not be released, he said.

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