News and Analysis

New Photos Emerge Of U.S. Nuclear Submarine That Was Damaged In South China Sea

   DailyWire.com
Photograph of submariners standing on top of the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut in the water at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Washington, May 7, 2018.
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

New photographs emerged on Sunday of the U.S. nuclear submarine that was damaged in the South China Sea when it struck an object, allegedly an underwater mountain, a couple of months ago, forcing it to return to the U.S. where it faces months of repairs.

“Ship spotter WarshipCam first posted a photo of the Seawolf-class attack submarine pulling into the San Diego harbor early Sunday,” The U.S. Naval Institute reported. “The Bremerton, Wash.,-based boat is slated to undergo additional repairs at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, which already has a backlog of maintenance. It’s unclear why the boat pulled into San Diego on Sunday morning.”

“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 U.S. Navy said in a statement back in October after the incident happened. “The safety of the crew remains the Navy’s top priority. There are no life-threatening injuries.”

The statement said that the submarine was “in a safe and stable condition” and that its “nuclear propulsion plant and spaces were not affected and remain fully operational.”

U.S. Naval Institute (USNI) News added the following details at the time:

A defense official told USNI News about 11 sailors were hurt in the incident with moderate to minor injuries. The attack boat is now headed to Guam and is expected to pull in within the next day, the official said. The underwater strike occurred in the South China Sea and the attack boat has been making its way to Guam on the surface since Saturday, a defense official confirmed to USNI News.

Several weeks later, the U.S. Navy revealed that the submarine struck an underwater mountain.

The U.S. 7th Fleet said:

The command investigation for USS Connecticut (SSN 22) has been submitted to Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet for review and endorsement. The investigation determined that Connecticut grounded on an uncharted seamount while operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region. Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet will determine whether follow-on actions — including accountability — are appropriate.

Jay Stefany, acting assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, told the House Armed Services Committee readiness subcommittee last week: “If we ended up doing [the Connecticut work] in one of the public shipyards, that would certainly cause perturbations in all the other work in the shipyards.”

During the same hearing, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) reportedly brought up how there was a lack of necessary facilities west of Hawaii to repair the submarine.

“Right now, it’s in Guam, that’s public record, there is no dry dock in Guam, hopefully, a sub tender can do the work, but that remains to be seen,” he said. “It just shows how … the world gets a vote and things change and unexpected incidents create more demand for repairs. … The attack subs have always been the poor cousin in the public shipyards in terms of getting priority, but we know particularly a Seawolf-class submarine is extremely valuable in terms of the mission in that part of the world.”

The three senior commanders in charge of the submarine were all fired following the U.S. Navy’s investigation into the accident.

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