A US nuclear-powered submarine that struck an underwater object in early October had hit an uncharted underwater mountain, an investigation found, forcing it to head from the South China Sea to Guam for repairs.
The USS Connecticut had been operating in the contested waterway when it struck the object on October 2, but it was unclear at the time what it had hit.
“The investigation determined USS CONNECTICUT grounded on an uncharted seamount while operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region,” a 7th Fleet spokesperson told CNN in a statement. US 7th Fleet operates in the Western Pacific and Indian oceans.
Though the Seawolf-class submarine suffered some injuries to crew members and some damage, the Navy said the nuclear propulsion plant was not damaged in the accident. None of the injuries were life-threatening.
The command investigation for the USS Connecticut has been submitted to Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, the commander of 7th Fleet, for his review, according to the statement. Thomas will decide whether “follow-on actions, including accountability, are appropriate.”
USNI News was the first to report the findings of the investigation.
The collision came at a particularly sensitive time in US-China relations, as the Chinese military was sending waves of aircraft into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone. On the day of the crash, China flew 39 aircraft into the Air Defense Identification Zone. Two days later, China flew a record 56 aircraft into the zone in a 24-hour period.