US 7TH Fleet confirms submarine hit sea mountain


THE US 7th Fleet has confirmed that one of their nuclear-powered submarines hit an underground “mountain” in the South China Sea last month.

However, the US 7th Fleet was mum on the exact position of the Seawolf-class nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN-22) in the South China Sea when it figured in the accident.

“The investigation determined USS Connecticut grounded on an uncharted seamount while operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region,” the US Naval Institute News quoted 7th Fleet spokesperson Cmdr. Hayley Sims as saying.

The collision hurt 11 sailors on board, although none suffered life-threatening injuries. 

US 7th Fleet commander Vice Arm. Karl Thomas will review the report to determine if any appropriate follow-up actions, including measures to exact accountability, would be needed over the incident, USNI News reported.

The Philippines only claims part of the South China Sea — around 200 nautical miles west of its main territory.

However, China, which claims nearly the entire South China Sea — had earlier pressed the US for answers on such “irresponsible” behavior.

“What was USS Connecticut up to do secretively in the South China Sea this time? What did it collide with? Why did that collision happen?” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said last month.

“Was there a nuclear leak that creates nuclear contamination in the marine environment?” Zhao added.

A report by Hong Kong-based daily, South China Morning Post, quoted military sources as saying that the incident may have occurred in Paracel Islands. It appears that the submarine had a head-on collision that cracked its sonar dome that made it effectively blind and deaf underwater.  A leaked satellite image of USS Connecticut moored in Guam showed that the other parts remained intact, suggesting the possibility that no leak occurred in its nuclear reactors.

Image courtesy of Public Domain

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