US nuclear attack submarine collides with an ‘unknown object’ in the South China Sea amid rising tensions with Beijing over Taiwan
- The U.S. Pacific Fleet said on Thursday that the USS Connecticut hit an object in the Indo-Pacific region on Sunday
- It said her nuclear propulsion system was not damaged and it was investigating
- One report said 11 sailors were injured in the collision with an ‘unknown object’
- The Navy offered no further details about the submarines operations
- But the South China Sea is one of the most contested areas on the planet
- News of the accident emerged on same day it was revealed that U.S. troops have been training Taiwanese forces for the pas yer
- And on Thursday the CIA announced a ‘China Mission Center’ to focus on threat from Beijing
Published: 22:14 BST, 7 October 2021 | Updated: 22:54 BST, 7 October 2021
A U.S. fast-attack, nuclear-powered submarine struck a mystery object while submerged in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said on Thursday, injuring as many as 11 sailors.
In a brief statement, the Navy said the U.S.S. Connecticut remained in a stable condition and that her nuclear plant was not damaged.
A defense official told the site that 11 people were injured and the boat was now headed to Guam, where it was expected to arrive on Saturday.
The region has been the scene of intense naval activity in recent years as China flexes its military muscles and the U.S. conducts ‘freedom of navigation’ missions to limit Beijing’s influence.
The accident comes as Washington expresses concern about China’s increasingly belligerent stance towards the self-governing island Taiwan.
In a statement, the Pacific Fleet said the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut struck an ‘unknown object’ on Sunday.
‘The safety of the crew remains the Navy’s top priority. There are no life threatening injuries,’ it said.
‘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.’
The U.S.S. Connecticut, seen here in a file picture, struck an ‘unknown object’ on Sunday, according to the U.S. Pacific Fleet
US’ stirring up trouble in S.China Sea the root cause for its submarine incident: Chinese FM
By Guo Yuandan and Fan Anqi
Published: Oct 08, 2021 05:58 PM
China expresses grave concern about the accident involving US submarine USS Connecticut hitting an unknown object in the South China Sea, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Friday, urging the US to clarify more details about the accident, its purpose of cruising in the area, and whether it has caused a nuclear leak that has damaged the local marine environment.
“I want to stress that the root cause of the incident, which also poses a serious threat and significant risks to regional peace and stability, is the US’ constant stirring up of trouble in the South China Sea over a long period of time,” Zhao noted at Friday’s press briefing.
“The US has deliberately delayed and concealed details of the incident, lacked transparency regardless of its responsibility,” Zhao added, “making China and countries around the area question the truth of the incident and real intentions of the US.”
He urged the US to abandon its cold war, zero-sum mentality and narrow geopolitical view, and stop sabotaging the peaceful and stable course of development in the region.
Experts reached by the Global Times said that the US nuclear submarines normally sail in the South China Sea at over 100 meters deep underwater. If it collided with a reef or another submarine, the resulting damage would likely be serious.
But judging from the official statement of the US Navy that it “remains in a safe and stable condition,” the submarine was most likely hit by an unmanned underwater detection vehicle, as such vehicles are small in size and would not pose much damages to the vessel.
Observers further noted that the US navy has put a significant number of such devices in the area to detect the hydrological characteristics of the South China Sea and China’s submarine operations, so it could be that “the US shot itself in the foot.” They added that the unknown object may have also been a submersible deployed by US allies in the Asia-Pacific region.
While the US has incessantly harassed the region over recent years, the incident suggests that it does not know much about the marine environment of the South China Sea, and its intelligence gathering and forecasting capabilities are limited, according to the observers.