US Navy Submarine Damaged After Striking ‘Object’ in South China Sea

A U.S. nuclear-powered submarine was involved in an underwater collision with an “object” in the South China Sea on Oct. 2, injuring several crew members, according to the U.S. Navy.

According to the Navy Times, 11 sailors were injured, although the injuries were not life-threatening.

“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,” a statement from the U.S. Navy read.

“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,” it continued.

The incident occurred as tensions in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait continued, with Beijing launching four days of mass aircraft incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone.

On Oct. 2, 39 Chinese aircraft flew into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) within a 24-hour period, forcing the government to scramble jets and ready air defence missiles.

On Oct. 4, another 56 Chinese aircraft flew into the self-governing island’s ADIZ.

Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told legislators on Oct. 6 that the situation was the “most severe in the 40 years since I’ve enlisted.”

While Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen continued warning of the possible ramifications of conflict and Taiwan falling to Chinese control.

“If Taiwan were to fall, the consequences would be catastrophic for regional peace and the democratic alliance system,” she wrote in an op-ed in Foreign Affairs magazine on Oct. 5. “It would signal that in today’s global contest of values, authoritarianism has the upper hand over democracy.”

Meanwhile, the Connecticut has been involved in operations around the South China Sea, including Carrier Strike Group 21, a multinational show of force with democratic allies Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Netherlands.

The Connecticut incident also comes after the U.S. administration pledged to work with the UK government to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines under the new trilateral AUKUS agreement. Although submarines were at the core of the deal, AUKUS will also see a more fabulous presence of U.S. and UK forces in Australia.