Chinese military still not sure what damaged US nuclear submarine in SCS: report

The Chinese military still does not know what damaged the US nuclear submarine as it roamed the disputed South China Sea earlier this month, while satellite photos of the docked ship showed the submarine may have had a head-on collision. , making him “deaf and blind”, according to a news article published on Saturday.

A recent satellite image suggests that the damage to the US submarine, the USS Connecticut, may have been caused by a head-on collision with a submerged pint-sized object in the South China Sea (SCS), according to Chinese military experts.

The incident four weeks ago may have occurred in waters near the disputed Paracel Islands in the China-controlled SCS, indicating that the Chinese navy could have detected the US submarine en route to Guam but no was unaware of its damaged condition, the Hong Kong- reported the South China Morning Post.

Earlier this month, media reported that the U.S. nuclear-powered submarine was damaged after striking an object underwater in the SCS.

Eleven sailors aboard the USS Connecticut were injured in the crash. None of the injuries were life threatening, according to an announcement from the US Pacific Fleet.

It is not known what the Seawolf-class submarine may have struck, as the announcement of the accident by the United States Navy a few days later did not give more details such as the extent of the damage. what the submarine had collided with or the specific location.

Reacting to the incident, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a press conference here on October 8 that “China is gravely concerned about this accident” and called on the Pentagon to provide an explanation.

“The United States, as the party involved in this incident, should advise the relevant details, including the location, purpose of this navigation, details of the accident and what the submarine struck and if a nuclear leak has taken place and whether the local maritime environment has been damaged, he asked.

After the incident, the submarine made it to the US Navy base in Guam and the first publicly available image of the docked ship showed that the sonar dome on the nose of the Seawolf-class submarine had been removed. , suggesting that his bow sonar system was damaged. in the Oct. 2 incident, according to the Post report.

Satellite photos of the USS Connecticut submarine were captured by private U.S. earth imaging company Planet Labs on October 20 and published by U.S. military and technology site The Drive.

“It is almost certain that the USS Connecticut was hit in a head-on collision that cracked its sonar dome, the most important sensor system, meaning the submarine effectively went blind and deaf underwater. and had to escape immediately, ”said Antony, a Macau-based military observer. said Wong Tong.

Twelve days earlier, the Beijing-based maritime think tank, the South China Sea Strategic Survey Initiative, posted a low-resolution satellite image on Twitter and said a suspected submarine of the Seawolf-class had been spotted sailing 43 nautical miles (80 km) southeast of Paracel Island on October 3, the day after the apparent collision.

SCS Paracel Island is referred to as the Xisha Islands by China.

China claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims.

Beijing is engaged in highly controversial territorial disputes in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. He built and militarized many of the islands and reefs he controls in the region. Both regions are known to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources and are also vital for world trade.

The United States periodically sends its naval and air patrols through the SCS, challenging China’s claims of sovereignty over the region and also asserting freedom of navigation.

Cao Yanzhong, a researcher at the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Academy of Military Sciences, claimed that US warships and planes carried out more than 2,000 close-range espionage missions targeting China this year then. as the rivalry between the two countries intensified.

The targets of these missions included Chinese-controlled islands and reefs in the SCS as well as the coastal area of ​​the Chinese mainland, Cao said at the 10th Xiangshan Forum, an annual Chinese military conference recently.

Wong further said that information suggested that the collusion of the US submarine could have occurred near the exclusive economic zone claimed by China around the disputed islands, even if the United States had not recognized such zone when they were conducting freedom of navigation operations in what they say. are international waters.

“The collision may have occurred within 43 nautical miles of the Paracels, and a sub-operation is much more sensitive than those of surface ships, causing the US Navy to keep a low profile and avoid alerting. its Chinese counterparts.

“The fact that the US submarine could stay underwater for so long suggests the damage was not serious,” Wong told the Post.

The resource-rich South China Sea is the world’s busiest waterway for military and commercial vessels. Beijing is building a huge underwater observation network, dubbed the “Great Underwater Wall”, for maritime science and national security applications.

Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said the Chinese Navy may have been aware of the US submarine’s route through the region, but did not establish where the incident occurred. and just let it pass.

The damage could have been caused by something the size of an underwater drone, rather than another submarine, the expert said.

“The accident reminded the People’s Liberation Army Navy to further strengthen China’s underwater surveillance capability, as well as its defensive strength in the region,” Li said.

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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