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windsclouds2030

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Analysis of USS Connecticut "accident" in SCS (in Chinese with English captions)

U.S. Navy May Scrap $3 Billion Submarine After South China Sea Accident

Military Watch Magazine - 23 November 2021

Following a reported undersea collisions in the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy’s Seawolf Class attack submarine USS Connecticut reportedly faces the possibility of being scrapped prematurely due to the extent of the damage suffered.

The Seawolf Class are the most expensive submarines ever produced outside France, with each costing $3-3.5 billion, and are some of the Navy’s most highly prized assets. Only three of a planned 29 were ever built due to their extreme costs. Each displaces 8,600 tons and carries 140 crew, 50 cruise missiles and a range of torpedoes.

The assets were designed for long range power projection to operate offensively near or in the waters of adversaries, and the ship’s presence near Chinese waters when the accident occurred made it a particularly serious embarrassment.

Following the accident the submarine limped back to Naval Base Guam where it has remained since, and despite an extended news blackout there have been multiple indications that the ship is very badly damaged. As Forbes noted: “the USS Connecticut’s mishap is a big deal and no longer a cozy internal Navy matter.... the Navy’s continued silence is doing more harm than good.”

It highlighted that the issue could be “a self-inflicted wound, stemming from longstanding but long-unfixed problems within the Navy,” highlighting that the turn of events was particularly unfavourable since the ship had long been “in effect, conserved for just the type of challenge China presents.”

A Command Investigation is expected to be completed in December, but the USS Connecticut’s accident is likely to stress America’s submarine industry and defence budget. Reports from the U.S. Naval Institute indicate that damage has been serious, raising questions regarding whether the ship will be repaired or whether it will be more cost effective to retire the damaged ship - much as the Wasp Class carrier, USS Bonhomme Richard, was slated for scrapping after a fire onboard in 2020 due to the high costs of repairs.

The fact that Seawolf Class submarines are no longer in production, and none are being retired meaning there are no available spare parts to be cannibalised, means repairs may not be viable as they would for a more widely used ship class. A thicker hull built with harder steel, which was seen as a cheaper alternative to titanium which Russian ships used, makes the exterior of the ship even more difficult to replace.

Questions have thus been raised regarding whether the ship, even if repaired and returned to service, would ever have capabilities comparable to a newly built Seawolf Class ship particularly pertaining to its stealth design. This will likely affect the decision on whether to scrap or restore the ship in favour of the former option.

The circumstances of the ship’s accident also remain highly uncertain, with the official report that the ship hit an uncharted undersea mountain being seen by some analysts as questionable while others have speculated that it either hit underground oil infrastructure or may have even been struck in a deniable attack by some class of undersea drones.

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subotai1

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Following a reported undersea collisions in the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy’s Seawolf Class attack submarine USS Connecticut reportedly faces the possibility of being scrapped prematurely due to the extent of the damage suffered.
If the US dispatches (or already did) a floating drydock or heavy-lift ship, that will tell you how bad the damage is. Those ships also, do not move without being noticed.
 

FireyCross

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I think the idea that a single submarine was harmed in a single sneak drone attack with zero follow up from either side and no clear benefit to do so is moving into the realms of Tom Clancy fantasy. it seems to me much more likely that it collided with a some undersea installation, either geophyscial survey / test rig of some description, or more likely - and somewhat ironically - a submarine detection array. I think even the US navy would find it hard to miss a mountain (unless, of course, they didn't).
 

VioletsForSpring

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I think the idea that a single submarine was harmed in a single sneak drone attack with zero follow up from either side and no clear benefit to do so is moving into the realms of Tom Clancy fantasy. it seems to me much more likely that it collided with a some undersea installation, either geophyscial survey / test rig of some description, or more likely - and somewhat ironically - a submarine detection array. I think even the US navy would find it hard to miss a mountain (unless, of course, they didn't).
People seem to overestimate our charting abilities. We have undersea maps still using 1800s sources.
 

FireyCross

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People seem to overestimate our charting abilities. We have undersea maps still using 1800s sources.

Fair point. In the UK, even in our small home waters, some of the admiralty maps still have areas with 19th century soundings... this is the kind of crap we get when we burned all the budget on STOVL toys and overlooked the fundamentals... like knowing whats sitting just underneath the hull, waiting to snag those high on hubris and short on cartography :(
 

VioletsForSpring

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Fair point. In the UK, even in our small home waters, some of the admiralty maps still have areas with 19th century soundings... this is the kind of crap we get when we burned all the budget on STOVL toys and overlooked the fundamentals... like knowing whats sitting just underneath the hull, waiting to snag those high on hubris and short on cartography :(
The issue is that the ocean is simply too large, we have tried very hard to chart as much as possible, but again, ocean is very big.
 

plawolf

Brigadier
Not only is the ocean floor vast, it is also constantly changing due to undersea volcanos and other natural events.

However, based on the wording of the public USN press announcements and extent of the damage, this may have been a case of just bad seamanship.

If it was a collision with an uncharted natural feature or newly installed man-made object, I find it hard to believe the collision could have been avoided by following ‘proper procedures’.

Maybe it’s just the navy looking for scapegoats given the costs and likely broader ramifications with talk of the entire class’ viability now in doubt, but taking them at their word, it sounds very much like the crew messed up their charts and timing and hit something they shouldn’t have.
 

Michaelsinodef

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Registered Member
Not only is the ocean floor vast, it is also constantly changing due to undersea volcanos and other natural events.

However, based on the wording of the public USN press announcements and extent of the damage, this may have been a case of just bad seamanship.

If it was a collision with an uncharted natural feature or newly installed man-made object, I find it hard to believe the collision could have been avoided by following ‘proper procedures’.

Maybe it’s just the navy looking for scapegoats given the costs and likely broader ramifications with talk of the entire class’ viability now in doubt, but taking them at their word, it sounds very much like the crew messed up their charts and timing and hit something they shouldn’t have.
From what else I have gathered it seems like the problem runs deeper (training, attitude, long deployments, suicide etc.).

What's more I think it was in a recent xi yazhou video where he said that the US Navy even ordered a complete stop/break for all its submarines.
 

plawolf

Brigadier
I have not heard anything about a break on all US sub operations. The seawolf crash initial findings were very quickly communicated to the entire US sub fleet, so that is another possible clue that this wasn’t some freak act of god event.

But what I keep coming back to is the potential fallout from this being the scrapping of the entire seawolf class, which is currently the USN’s most prized sub class.

Sure, loosing a third of the fleet would be a huge blow, but why scrap the remaining two perfectly good boats that are already bought and paid for? If anything, loosing a boat would improve their spares available and crew rotation as parts and crew from the Connecticut can be scavenged for the remaining two.

I cannot help but wonder if the accident might not have also compromised the Connecticut’s acoustic signature to the PLAN as it limped back to Guam after the collision, which may have seriously undermined the USN’s faith in the ability of the remaining seawolf boats to continue to run the kinds of operations they were likely used for and prized for.
 

NiuBiDaRen

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I'm in Singapore now. Today while driving to Changi for sailing on the way to and back I noticed multiple Poseidons landing and taking off from Paya Lebar Airbase throughout the entire day.

What would the purpose be? Just SCS monitoring?

From the article:

A RAAF Boeing P-8A Poseidon Multi-Mission Aircraft has been flying what Defence calls “maritime surveillance” missions from Singapore since mid-October, with data from flight tracking websites suggesting these take place over the South China Sea.

Singapore’s Ministry of Defence told ADM that the RAAF is flying maritime surveillance missions from Singapore under the auspices of the Australia-Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP), which it says allows both militaries access to each other’s bases.
 

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