The U.S. Navy announced Thursday that a nuclear submarine, the USS Connecticut, struck an object in the South China Sea on October 2. No one was injured in the crash, which took place in international waters.
“The submarine remains in a safe and stable condition,” the Navy said. “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.”
According to The Washington Post, the Navy disclosed the collision Thursday, about five days after it happened. Sailors suffered “minor” injuries, none of which were life-threatening.
“A Navy official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity, said keeping the matter quiet for several days allowed the crew of the USS Connecticut time to travel back to Guam, where the attack submarine is expected to arrive soon,” the Post said.
The Post report also said that it “not believed” that China had anything to do with the crash. The 353-foot boat “typically carries a crew of about 15 officers and 100 enlisted sailors,” the Post said.
According to USNI, the Connecticut, which is based at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Wash., deployed to the South Pacific May 27. The story also said that the last time a U.S. submarine struck an object underwater was when the USS San Francisco struck an ‘underwater mountain‘ near Guam. One sailor died in that incident.
The USS Connecticut is one of three Seawolf-class nuclear attack subs which were all deployed to the Pacific Ocean at the same time this summer, a rare occurrence.
“Fleet commanders ideally would be able to surge a class during a crisis—sending out more or all of the vessels at the same time. Imagine a war with China. To have any chance of defeating potentially hundreds of Chinese warships, the U.S. Pacific Fleet surely would need to send out more than its usual 50 or 60 ships,” Forbes wrote of the deployment.
The question has also been raised of whether the U.S. Navy’s submarines have become obsolete.
Earlier this year, it was reported that the same submarine had suffered an infestation of bed bugs.
“We’ve had bed bugs for a year now,” an anonymous petty officer told Navy Times at the time. “Sailors complained about getting bitten in the racks… People were getting eaten alive in their racks.”
The bed bug outbreak was traced back to the submarine’s participation in the Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2020 exercise in the Arctic Ocean, last year.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.