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Nov. 28, 2021

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U.S. nuclear submarine hits mystery object in South China Sea, injuring 11 sailors

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A U.S. nuclear-powered attack submarine struck an object while submerged in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region last week, the Navy said, adding that no life-threatening injuries were reported.

“The submarine remains in a safe and stable condition. USS Connecticut’s nuclear propulsion plant and spaces were not affected and remain fully operational,” U.S. Pacific Fleet said in a statement late Thursday, adding the extent of the damage from the Oct 2. incident is being assessed.

A U.S. Naval Institute News report, citing an unnamed defense official, said about a dozen sailors suffered minor to moderate injuries when the submarine hit an unknown underwater object in the South China Sea. It added the last known incidence of a U.S. submarine striking an underwater object took place in 2005, when the USS San Francisco struck an underwater mountain in a collision that killed one sailor aboard.

The incident with the Connecticut comes just weeks after Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. announced a new security arrangement. The so-called AUKUS pact also created a rift with France, which saw a $66 billion deal to provide Australia conventional submarines voided in favor of a deal for American-made nuclear-powered ships.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended the deal as a “game changer” for Australian security in the face of China’s military assertiveness, saying it would add to Indo-Pacific stability.

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