Damaged US Navy sub was operating in one of world’s most difficult undersea environments, analysts say

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US defense officials did not provide details of Thursday’s crash aboard the USS Connecticut, saying only that several sailors aboard the plane were injured. sub hit and Object while running submerged in the South China Sea.

The service said the injuries were minor and the deputy was making his way under his power to a US naval base on the island of Guam.

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It is one of three Seawolf-class submarines in the Connecticut Navy fleet, valued at approximately $3 billion. The 9,300-ton, 353-foot sub, commissioned in 1998, is powered by a single nuclear reactor and is manned by 140 sailors.

Since it is even bigger than the latest Virginia-class attack, According to a US Navy fact sheet, the Connecticut can carry more weapons than other US attack submarines – including 50 torpedoes as well as Tomahawk cruise missiles.

And despite being more than 20 years old, it is technologically advanced and has performed during its service period with updates to its system.

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The Navy says it is “extraordinarily quiet, fast, well armed and equipped with advanced sensors.”

“These subs have some of the most advanced – indeed the most advanced – underwater capabilities in the business,” said Alessio Petalano, professor of warfare and strategy at King’s College in London.

How did it get into trouble in the South China Sea?

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Although the Navy did not disclose what struck Connecticut, analysts say conditions in the South China Sea could be a challenge to the sub’s sophisticated sensors.

“It could have been such a small object that sonar could not miss it in a noisy environment,” said Patalano.

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, naval ships use “passive sonar” to detect objects in the waters around them. Unlike “active sonar”, which sends pings and then registers how long it takes for their echoes to return to the vessel, passive sonar only detects sound coming towards it.

This enables the submarine to remain calm and hide from opponents, but means that the sub must rely on other equipment or multiple passive sonars to triangulate. The location of an object in its path.

Analysts said that because the South China Sea is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and fishing areas, all kinds of noise from ships on the surface could pose a threat to submarines below.

“Depending on the location of the incident, noise interference (usually from above traffic) could affect the sensor, or indeed the operators’ use of it,” Patalano said.

And it’s not just shipping that could cause problems for a submarine in the South China Sea, said Carl Schuster, a former US Navy captain and former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center.

“It’s an area with a very poor acoustic environment,” Schuster said, even as the nature of the water itself is causing problems.

“Ambient noise from currents passing between islands and inconsistent water conditions affect acoustic reception,” he said.

It’s also possible that something from below could be causing the problem, Schuster said.

“Those water environments and sea levels are in a state of slow but drastic change,” Schuster said. “It’s an area that requires constant bottom contour mapping. You can hit an unknown underwater mountain there.

“So the countries in that region, the US and China, are constantly surveying and patrolling them.”

This was the second submarine-related accident in the region this year. In April, an Indonesian submarine sank in the Strait of Bali, killing all 53 crew aboard.

Indonesian Navy officials said the accident was caused by “a natural/environmental factor”, but did not provide further details.

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Credit : www.cnn.com

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