A US nuclear submarine collided with an “unidentified object” while sinking in waters in the Asia-Pacific region, injuring several sailors, according to US officials.
They stated that it was not clear what caused the accident, which occurred on Saturday (10/02). The submarine remained “fully operational”.
Officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told US media that the collision occurred in international waters in the South China Sea, injuring 11 sailors.
The incident occurred amid escalating tensions in the region.
The US Navy said the extent of the damage was still being assessed and that the submarine’s nuclear propulsion plant and its areas had not been affected.
But the statement did not give details about the location of the accident or the number of wounded, saying only that the injuries are not life-threatening.
However, the Associated Press quoted officials as saying that two of the 11 injured sailors had injuries classified as “moderate.” They were all treated on board the submarine.
These authorities said that the accident occurred while the submarine was conducting routine operations and that the Navy did not release the news until Thursday (10/07) to maintain the safety of operations.
According to the Associated Press, authorities said the object that hit the aircraft carrier USS Connecticut was not another submarine.
One of the officials cited by the agency said it could be a sinking ship, a container, or something else unknown.
It was later reported that the submarine was heading to the US territory of Guam.
The US Navy’s website, USNI News, said the last known incident in which a submerged US submarine collided with another underwater object was in 2005, when the aircraft carrier USS San Francisco collided with an underwater mountain near Guam. A sailor died in the accident.
The dispute over the South China Sea
USS Connecticut was operating in one of the world’s most disputed territories. China claims most of the South China Sea, but neighboring countries and the United States disagree.
The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have vied for China’s claim to most of the sea for decades, but tensions have steadily risen in recent years.
The United States has supported many of these countries in this regional dispute.
It is the largest security agreement between the three countries since World War II (1939-45), according to analysts in the defense and security sector. Although the US, UK and Australia have been allies for decades, the agreement formalizes and deepens their defense cooperation.
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