The USS Connecticut, a nuclear-powered submarine, hit a submerged object in the South China Sea Saturday, leaving 11 sailors with non-life-threatening injuries, sources tell CNN. "The submarine remains in a safe and stable condition. USS Connecticut's nuclear propulsion plant and spaces were not affected and remain fully operational," says a statement from the US Navy's Pacific Fleet. "The incident will be investigated." Two of the soldiers suffered moderate injuries while the others had scrapes and bruises, the Guardian reports.
The US and allies including the UK, Japan, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands have been carrying out training operations in and around the South China Sea, which is why the Connecticut, a multibillion-dollar Seawolf-class sub, was there. Officials say it has since headed to port at Guam and should arrive within days, the Washington Post reports. The incident was purposely kept quiet for a few days while the crew traveled there, sources say.
"The extent of damage to the remainder of the submarine is being assessed," the statement says. One unnamed official says it was not another submarine the Connecticut struck, but could have been a sunken vessel or shipping container. CNN notes the sub was operating "in one of the world's most difficult undersea environments, one filled with noise from ships above and a seabed with constantly shifting contours that can surprise any submarine crew." (US-China tensions have recently increased over the Chinese military encroaching on Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone.)