USS Connecticut Begins Evaluations in Guam

On October 2, 2021, the USS Connecticut (SSN-22) suffered a major underwater collision while operating in the South China Sea. After nearly a week of traveling on the surface, the Seawolf-class nuclear attack submarine arrived at Apra Harbor, Naval Base Guam on October 11 to begin a detailed investigation of the incident and an in-depth evaluation of her condition.



Incident

As previously mentioned, the incident occurred in the South China Sea. While traveling submerged, the Seawolf-class submarine suffered an underwater collision with an unknown object. Sensors or charts did not detect the presence of any landmass or object prior to the collision. At least twelve sailors were injured during the initial impact, although all are now reported to be in stable condition. Following the collision, the Connecticut surfaced and made way towards Apra Harbor at Naval Base Guam.


The People's Republic of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has demanded to know what the USS Connecticut was doing at the time of the accident, along with the potential environmental impact to the area given the fact the boat is nuclear powered. The United States Navy has released press reports indicating there was no damage to the nuclear propulsion plant during the incident.


Assessment

The USS Connecticut is one of only three Seawolf submarines in the United States's inventory. Designed at the height of the Cold War, these boats were built to be the quietest, deadliest and most effective platforms in America's submarine arsenal.


Since the end of the Cold War, the USS Connecticut, USS Seawolf (SSN-21), and USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23) have conducted vital intelligence gathering missions for the United States, amongst other taskings. Their ability to cruise quietly for extended periods is unique to the class, making them perfect for operations under the ice in the Arctic Circle or in contested bodies of water in the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea.


Due to the fact only three Seawolf submarines were ever built, it is unlikely the Connecticut will return to active status in the near future. The Navy has no donor hulls to call upon, and spare parts in the quantity required may be hard to come by. While it is clear the Connecticut will be repaired, when is a completely different story.