Mystery still shrouds the accident involving USS Connecticut (SSN-22), a Seawolf-class, nuclear submarine in the South China Sea. Here is what we know about the incident till now.
US Pacific Fleet released a brief statement on the incident on Thursday, which said that the US navy attack submarine had struck an object while submerged in international waters on October 2. The statement did not reveal the exact location of the incident, and instead just said that the incident took place in ‘international waters’.
The officials said that 11 sailors were hurt, out of whom two suffered moderate injuries, and others suffered minor bruises. They were all treated on the submarine itself.
The US Pacific Fleet said that the submarine remained in a ‘safe and stable condition’, that there were ‘no life-threatening injuries’, and it was still fully operational.
The statement said that the nuclear propulsion plant of the submarine was not affected. “The extent of damage to the remainder of the submarine is being assessed,” the statement added, saying that the incident would be investigated.
The statement said that the incident took place while the submarine was conducting ‘routine operations’ and that the Navy did not make the news public before Thursday, in order to ‘maintain operational security’.
According to a report by Associated Press, the objected that the submarine collied with was not another submarine, and it could have been a sunken vessel, container, or other uncharted object.
According to reports, the submarine was seen heading towards the US territory of Guam after the incident.
The collision comes amid escalating tensions in the South China sea region. The incident was reported in the week when US and UK aircraft carriers conducted military exercises with Japan, Canada, Netherlands and New Zealand, in the north of Taiwan.
Submarine accidents like these are very rare. According to a USNI News, the last known incident when a submerged US submarine struck another object underwater was in 2005, when the USS San Francisco hit an underwater mountain at full speed near Guam, in which a sailor had died.
The U.S. Pacific Fleet consists of approximately 200 ships/submarines, nearly 1,200 aircraft, and more than 130,000 Sailors and civilians.