UPDATED: Attack Submarine USS Connecticut Suffers Underwater Collision in South China Sea

This post has been updated with additional details on the injuries to the crew of USS Connecticut and the location of the collision.

Almost a dozen sailors have been injured after a U.S. nuclear attack submarine hit an unknown underwater object in the South China Sea, USNI News has learned.

The Seawolf-class nuclear attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN-22) suffered an underwater collision while operating in international waters on Oct. 2 and is returning to port in U.S. 7th Fleet, a U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman confirmed to USNI News on Thursday.

“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 told 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.”

A defense official told USNI News about 11 sailors were hurt in the incident with moderate to minor injuries. The attack boat is now headed to Guam and is expected to pull in within the next day, the official said. The underwater strike occurred in the South China Sea and the attack boat has been making its way to Guam on the surface since Saturday, a defense official confirmed to USNI News.

The Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Wash., based submarine deployed on May 27 for the Pacific, the Navy announced at the time. The service has released photographs of the submarine operating in the Western Pacific with port calls in Japan in late July and August. U.S. 7th Fleet commander Adm. Karl Thomas visited the submarine in August, according to the service.

Connecticut is one of three Sea Wolf-class boats, a late Cold War attack submarine designed to hunt the most complex Soviet submarines in deep blue water. Along with USS Sea Wolf (SSN-21) and USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23), Connecticut is among the Navy’s most capable and sensitive attack boats.

The last known instance where a submerged U.S. submarine struck another underwater object was in 2005. Then, USS San Franciso (SSN -711) struck an underwater mountain at full speed near Guam. One sailor died in the incident.

The following is the complete Oct. 7 statement from Pacific Fleet.

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.

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.”

(Source)

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