Sunday, October 24, 2021

Pentagon Denies Chinese Accusation of Cover-Up in Nuclear Attack Submarine Crash

Pentagon Denies Chinese Accusation of Cover-Up in Nuclear Attack Submarine Crash

USS Connecticut (SSN-22) arrives at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan for a scheduled port visit on July 31, 2021.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Tuesday denied a Chinese accusation that the U.S. is seeking to cover up a submarine collision in the South China Sea.

“It’s an odd way of covering something up when you put out a press release about it,” Kirby said during a press conference when asked about China’s allegation.

Seawolf-class nuclear attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN-22) hit an unknown object while underwater on Oct. 2, injuring 11 sailors, USNI News previously reported.

The Navy has not yet said what Connecticut struck, and Kirby referred reporters to the Navy when asked. USNI News previously reported that it was not another vessel.

It took the Navy five days to release information on the crash, which prompted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian to question the details about the collision, according to a transcript of the foreign ministry’s Monday press conference.

“Such irresponsible attitude and stonewalling and cover-up practice only make the international community more suspicious of the US intention and details of the accident,” Zhao said, according to the transcript.

Zhao called on the United States to clarify the location of the accident, if there was any nuclear leakage and if the crash will affect fishery, according to the statement.

“The US side should take a responsible attitude, give a detailed account of what happened as soon as possible and make a satisfactory explanation to the international community and regional countries,” he said.

In an Oct. 7 statement, U.S. Pacific Fleet said the submarine’s nuclear propulsion plant and spaces are fully operational and were not affected.

Connecticut is in a “safe and stable condition,” according to the statement.

The submarine arrived at Naval Base Guam on Friday and is undergoing an assessment and preliminary repairs while the Navy investigates the crash, USNI News reported this week.

U.S. 7th Fleet is leading a command investigation into the crash, while Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet heads up a safety investigation, COMSUBPAC spokeswoman Cmdr. Cindy Fields previously told USNI News.

Connecticut, one of three Seawolf-class attack submarines, is based in Bremerton, Wash. The boat left in May to deploy to the Western Pacific and made at least two port calls to Japan before its crash.

This Is Our First Look At The USS Connecticut After Its Underwater Collision

This Is Our First Look At The USS Connecticut After Its Underwater Collision

One of the Navy’s prized Seawolf class nuclear fast-attack submarines, the USS Connecticut (SSN-22), slammed into a “submerged object” on Oct. 2, 2021. After it was clear that the submarine was stable and its reactor was safe to operate, it limped from the South China Sea, where the collision reportedly occurred, back to the sprawling U.S. naval facility in Guam, where the damage would be assessed and the accident investigated. The Navy has remained very tight-lipped about what it thinks Connecticut collided with, or if it has any idea what it was at all. You can read about some of the possibilities here. As of today, no pictures of the stricken submarine have surfaced, which is somewhat remarkable, although there have been plenty of misrepresented images floating around social media that claim to show the damage. Now, The War Zone has obtained satellite imagery that shows Connecticut tied up to the pier in Guam — the first public image of the submarine since the incident.

The high-resolution satellite imagery was taken on Oct. 20, 2021. It shows two submarines in port in Guam. One, which is moored on the western pier near the submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS-39), appears to be undergoing some maintenance. The white tarp-like object on its bow is not an uncommon sight for submarines in port. While it is tough to tell, compared to the other submarine moored direct across the harbor to the east, its beam looks smaller and it does not appear to have a pumpjet propulsion system. These factors, and its general shape, indicate that this is most likely an improved Los Angeles class (688i) boat. The Seawolf class, with its 40-foot beam, is wider than America’s other two fast-attack submarines — the Los Angeles class being 34 feet wide and the Virginia class being 36 feet wide. Also, this submarine features a pumpjet instead of a propeller. The Virginia class also is also equipped with a pumpjet.

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