Eleven sailors were hurt when the nuclear-powered submarine USS Connecticut struck an underwater object, the Navy has revealed.
The Navy classified two of the sailors as having moderate injuries, with the rest classified as having bumps and bruises, according to The Associated Press.
The incident took place during a patrol in international waters of the South China Sea.
“The Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN-22) struck an object while submerged on the afternoon of Oct. 2, while operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region. The safety of the crew remains the Navy’s top priority. There are no life-threatening injuries,” Capt. Bill Clinton said, according to USNI News.
“The submarine remains in a safe and stable condition. USS Connecticut’s nuclear propulsion plant and spaces were not affected and remain fully operational. The extent of damage to the remainder of the submarine is being assessed. The U.S. Navy has not requested assistance. The incident will be investigated,” he said.
USS Connecticut: Sailors injured after US nuclear submarine hit unknown object in South China Sea https://t.co/YDwsOk3qrf
— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 8, 2021
The AP reported that two Navy officials who it did not name said the incident was not announced immediately due to operational security.
It was unclear what the sub hit. The conjecture was that a sunken vessel, a sunken container or some other object not on nautical charts was hit.
China’s state-run Global Times newspaper said China’s Foreign Ministry voiced “grave concerns” about the incident, according to CBS News.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian was quoted as urging the U.S. to “provide details, its purpose of cruising, and whether it caused a nuclear leak or damaged the marine environment.”
If you want to know how complex the situation in South China Sea is ?? pic.twitter.com/urSISpePZV
— A 林 (@ComradeLin_) October 7, 2021
He called the incident “uncommon but not unheard of.”
“The South China Sea has been increasingly saturated with naval vessels from a number of different countries. While there’s been a lot of show of force by surface vessels you don’t see the level of activity under the surface,” he said.
The last known incident of a Navy submarine hitting an underwater object came in 2005 when the USS San Francisco hit an underwater mountain. One sailor died in the crash.
USS Connecticut’s collision today was not the first time the sub unexpectedly came into contact with something. After the Connecticut had surfaced in an ice pack in 2003, a polar bear approached and began to lick the rudder before deciding he did not want a sub and wandered off. pic.twitter.com/xUmJt92enN
— U.S. Naval Institute (@NavalInstitute) October 7, 2021
The USS Connecticut, which is based at Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton, Washington, began its deployment on May 27.
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