Pentagon denies Chinese cover-up charge in nuclear-attack submarine crash

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USS Connecticut (SSN-22) arrives at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan for a scheduled stopover July 31, 2021. U.S. Navy Photo

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Tuesday denied a Chinese accusation that the United States was seeking to cover up an underwater collision in the South China Sea.

“It’s a weird way to cover something when you put out a press release about it,” Kirby said at a press conference when asked about China’s claim.

USS Seawolf-class nuclear attack submarine Connecticut (SSN-22) struck an unknown object while underwater on October 2, injuring 11 sailors, USNI News previously reported.

The Navy has not yet said what Connecticut knocked, and Kirby referred reporters to the Navy when asked. USNI News previously reported that it was not another vessel.

It took five days for the Navy to release information about the crash, prompting Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian to question details of the crash, according to a transcript from the press conference of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday.

“Such irresponsible attitude and obstruction and cover-up practices only make the international community more suspicious of the United States’ intention and the details of the accident,” Zhao said, according to the report. transcription.

Zhao called on the United States to clarify the location of the crash, whether there was a nuclear leak and whether the crash will affect fishing, the statement said.

“The American side should adopt a responsible attitude, give a detailed account of what happened as soon as possible and provide a satisfactory explanation to the international community and to the countries of the region,” he said.

In an Oct. 7 statement, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said the nuclear power plant and submarine spaces were fully operational and had not been affected.

Connecticut is in “safe and stable condition,” the statement said.

The submarine arrived at Naval Base Guam on Friday and is undergoing a preliminary assessment and repairs while the Navy investigates the crash, USNI News reported this week.

The U.S. 7th Fleet is conducting a command investigation into the accident, while the U.S. Pacific Fleet Submarine Force is leading a safety investigation, COMSUBPAC spokesperson Cmdr. Cindy Fields previously told USNI News.

Connecticut, one of three Seawolf-class attack submarines, is based in Bremerton, Washington. The ship departed in May to deploy to the western Pacific and made at least two stops in Japan before it crashed.


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