American Sailors Injured After USS Connecticut Strikes Unknown Object in South China Sea

U.S. Navy sailors were injured after an attack submarine traveling in the South China Sea hit an unknown underwater object on Saturday.

The submarine, the USS Connecticut, is returning to port following the collision, USNI News reported on Thursday. The news outlet reported that about 11 sailors experienced minor or moderate injuries.

"The Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN-22) struck an object while submerged on the afternoon of Oct. 2, while operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region. The safety of the crew remains the Navy's top priority. There are no life-threatening injuries," Captain Bill Clinton told USNI News.

American Sailors Injured After Submarine Strikes Object
Eleven sailors were injured after an attack submarine traveling in the South China Sea hit an unknown underwater object on Saturday. Above, submariners standing on top of the USS Connecticut in the water at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton in Washington state on May 7, 2018. Archive Photos

He added that the submarine "remains in a safe and stable condition."

"USS Connecticut's nuclear propulsion plant and spaces were not affected and remain fully operational. The extent of damage to the remainder of the submarine is being assessed. The U.S. Navy has not requested assistance. The incident will be investigated," he said.

The U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet also noted the incident on Twitter Thursday.

"The #USNavy Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine struck an object while submerged on Oct. 2, while operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region. There are no life threatening injuries," it tweeted.

Statement regarding #USSConnecticut (SSN 22):

The #USNavy Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine struck an object while submerged on Oct. 2, while operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region. There are no life threatening injuries.

More: https://t.co/2ojR5arcd4 pic.twitter.com/VNSQI5XJet

— U.S. Pacific Fleet (@USPacificFleet) October 7, 2021

The USS Connecticut is now heading to Guam and is expected to make it there in the next day, USNI News reported. The submarine deployed to the Pacific from Washington State in late May, according to the outlet.

The incident comes as tensions have increased between the U.S. and China as Taiwan reported a record number of incursions by Chinese planes into its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in recent days. On Saturday, Taiwan reported that 38 Chinese aircraft entered the island's ADIZ Friday—the largest daily Chinese incursion into the area.

On Sunday, the U.S. criticized China over the military flights near Taiwan and said its commitment to Taiwan is "rock solid"

"We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan," the U.S. State Department said in a statement. "We have an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. We will continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability."

On Tuesday, it appeared China had deployed military vessels to shadow American and British aircraft carrier formations in the South China Sea ahead of a planned exercise with four other countries: Japan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Newsweek reached out to the U.S. Navy for comment but did not receive a response before publication.