Damaged USS Connecticut Seen for the First Time Since October Collision - Photo

CC0 / / The Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22)
The Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.12.2021
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The nuclear-powered fast attack submarine struck an uncharted seamount in the South China Sea, a highly contested area claimed by several Asian countries, including China. The incident left 11 crew members injured and sparked tensions with Beijing, who demanded that Washington provide the full details about the collision.
The damaged USS Connecticut has been seen for the first time since its October collision. Pictures posted online show the Seawolf class submarine arriving in San Diego harbour with visible damage to its bow.
US media outlets previously reported that the collision with an undersea mountain resulted in severe damage to the submarine's ballast tanks. The vessel's nuclear reactor and propulsion system were not impaired. According to a recent report by US Naval Institute News, the incident also resulted in the destruction of the sub's sonar dome, which made it unsafe for the USS Connecticut to travel underwater.

The outlet writes that the submarine's final destination is the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Washington. It is unclear why the submarine has arrived in San Diego.

Following the incident, Vice Admiral Karl Thomas, Commander of the US 7th Fleet, which operates in the western Pacific, relieved three top commanders of the USS Connecticut from duty due to loss of confidence.

"[The admiral] determined sound judgement, prudent decision-making, and adherence to required procedures in navigation planning and risk management could have prevented the incident", read the statement.

The collision also led to the US Navy issuing a call for a "navigational stand down". Crews "will review required procedures in navigation planning, operations, risk management, and best practices as part of this training", said Submarine Forces spokesman Commander Paul Macapagal.

The incident, which left 11 crew members injured, occurred on 2 October, with the Navy initially saying that the submarine hit an unknown object in "international waters". Days later, however, the US Navy released a statement saying that the USS Connecticut struck an "uncharted seamount", while in the South China Sea, a highly contested area claimed by several Asian countries, including Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and China. The United States has no claims to the area, but often conducts missions in the South China Sea citing freedom of navigation.
Beijing, which claims most of the area, has harshly criticised Washington's actions, which the Foreign Ministry said threatened regional security and navigation safety, as well as exacerbated tensions between the two nations.

"Such an irresponsible, cagey practice gives regional countries and the international community every reason to question the truth of the incident and the intentions of the US", said Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

The incident coincided with massive military drills held jointly by British, Canadian, Dutch, Japanese, US, and New Zealand forces. The military exercises were carried out north of Taiwan.
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