A U.S. nuclear-powered submarine struck an unidentified object in the South China Sea over the weekend, Navy officials confirmed Thursday, with several non-life-threatening injuries reported among the crew.
The USS Connecticut, a Seawolf-class fast attack submarine, hit an unidentified object or land mass Oct. 2 while operating in international waters and is returning to port in the U.S. 7th Fleet.
Almost a dozen sailors were injured but none of the injuries was considered serious, according to the U.S. Naval Institute.
While the extent of damage to the submarine is still being assessed, Navy officials said the nuclear propulsion plant that generates power to the USS Connecticut wasn’t affected by the collision and remains fully operational.
Underwater collisions are not unheard of in the nation’s submarine force. In January 2013, the nuclear submarine USS Jacksonville struck a fishing trawler while operating underwater in the Persian Gulf. The impact sheared off one of the sub’s two periscopes but there were no reported injuries.
In 2009, the USS Hartford, a Los Angeles-class attack submarine, collided with the USS New Orleans, an amphibious assault ship, in the Strait of Hormuz. About 25,000 gallons of diesel fuel were spilled from the New Orleans. In 2005, the USS San Francisco struck an underwater mountain at full speed about 360 miles southeast of Guam. Almost 100 crewmembers aboard the submarine were injured and one was killed.
In most cases, such mishaps have resulted in the commander of the submarine and other senior leaders being fired.
The Connecticut is now headed to Guam on the sea’s surface, according to the USNI.
The submarine set sail from its home port at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton near Seattle on May 27. Earlier this year, the Connecticut was hit with an infestation of bedbugs, causing some crew members to sleep in their cars before mattresses were replaced and the ship was cleaned.