China has issued stiff condemnation over the revelation of a U.S. nuclear submarine was in the South China Sea after the vessel collided with an unknown object.
The USS Connecticut made contact with an object while submerged Tuesday, causing several non-life-threatening injuries to the crew onboard. The submarine was operating in the South China Sea and reached Guam Friday.
Officials revealed no details about the collision or extent of damage to the USS Connecticut, but China’s Foreign Ministry expressed “serious concern” over the incident.
In this Dec. 15, 2016, photo, provided by the U.S. Navy, the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) departs Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for sea trials following a maintenance availability. A Navy official says a submarine that collided with an unknown underwater object in the South China Sea has arrived in port at Guam. The Navy says the USS Connecticut was conducting routine operations when it struck the object on Oct. 2, 2021. (Thiep Van Nguyen II/U.S. Navy via AP)
“As the party involved, the U.S. should clarify in detail the situation of the accident, including the location, the intention of the sailing, details of the accident, such as what exactly it collided with, whether it caused a nuclear leak, and whether it damaged the local marine environment,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters Friday.
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Zhao said the accident exposed the “serious threat and significant risk to regional peace and stability” posed by U.S. naval operations, which China perceived as a challenge to its sovereign claim over the region.
“The U.S. side should abandon its old cold war and zero-sum thinking and narrow geopolitical concepts and stop this wrong approach that undermines the peaceful and stable development of the region,” Zhao said.
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Navy officials could not confirm what type of object the vessel came in contact with, though, one official, who spoke to the Navy Times and requested anonymity, said the area’s topography did not indicate a landmass in the boat’s path.
The official also said that there is no evidence the incident was due to any hostile interaction or a collision with another submarine. But the official also cautioned that the incident is still under investigation, saying all information was preliminary at the moment.
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Two crew members suffered moderate injuries but did not require evacuation, while the official could not give a total number of sailors hurt but did describe their injuries as “bumps, bruises, and lacerations.”
The U.S. Naval Institute News, which first reported the collision, stated that 11 sailors were injured in the incident.
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“The submarine remains in a safe and stable condition,” the Navy said in a statement. “USS Connecticut’s nuclear propulsion plant and spaces were not affected and remain fully operational.”
The incident is being investigated by U.S. Pacific Fleet and the Naval Safety Center.
Fox News’ Michael Lee and The Associated Press contributed to this report.