Japanese submarine crashes into commercial tanker: Crew spot giant ship too late through the periscope… then have to report crash by phone because radio was destroyed
- Three of the crew members of the ‘Soryu’ submarine suffered minor injuries
- The vessel crashed into a Chinese commercial ship, officials said on Monday
- It was in the process of surfacing near Japan’s south-western island of Shikoku
- The submarine temporarily lost communications after the mast was damaged
A Japanese submarine crashed into a Chinese tanker while it was surfacing after the crew failed to spot the giant ship through their periscope, officials have said.
The crew of the Japanese navy’s 275-foot vessel then had to report the incident by mobile phone because the submarine’s radio was destroyed in the crash.
Three of the crew members of the ‘Soryu’ suffered minor injuries, while the submarine suffered damage to its mast, Japanese defence officials said on Monday.
The Soryu was in the process of surfacing about 27 nautical miles south of Cape Ashizuri on Japan’s south-western island of Shikoku when it collided with the commercial ship, the Maritime Self-Defence Force said.
Pictured: A photo from Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force shows submarine ‘Souryu’ off Ashizuri Cape in Kochi prefecture, western Japan, on February 8. Damage can be seen on its fairweather planes – the wing-like attachments to its conning tower
The navy did not identify the commercial ship, but NHK public television said it was the Hong Kong-registered bulk carrier Ocean Artemis.
It was transporting 90,000 tons of iron to Okayama in western Japan after leaving the Chinese port of Qingdao last Friday with 21 Chinese crew members, it said.
Defence minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters that the collision was ‘extremely regrettable’.
‘Soryu scraped the hull of the vessel as it was surfacing,’ Kishi said. ‘It is extremely regrettable the MSDF submarine has collided with a commercial ship.’
He said the submarine, which carries a crew of around 65 people, temporarily lost communication signals due to the damage to its antenna mast.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga instructed authorities to confirm whether the vessel was safe, and to provide rescue if necessary.
‘We will take every possible step,’ he told senior members of his party on Monday, according to Nikkei Asia.
The commercial ship left the scene but later told Japanese coastguard officials that it sustained no damage and its crew did not even feel the impact, Mr Kishi said.
He said an investigation is under way.
Three of the crew members of the ‘Soryu’ (pictured) suffered minor injuries in the crash, while the submarine suffered damage to its mast, Japanese defence officials said on Monday
The Soryu was in the process of surfacing about 27 nautical miles south of Cape Ashizuri on Japan’s south-western island of Shikoku when it collided with the commercial ship, the Maritime Self-Defence Force said. Pictured: A map showing the location of the crash
RAND Corp analyst and former US Navy captain, who analysed the image of the damage, told CNN that the impact would have limited the submarine’s capabilities.
‘I wouldn’t call the damage “minor.” The submarine can’t dive and can’t communicate,’ Martin said in an email to the news network.
The accident comes almost 20 years to the day after a US nuclear powered submarine hit and sank a Japanese fishing vessel near Honolulu, Hawaii.
In that incident, nine people were killed, including four high-school students.
On February 9 2001, the USS Greeneville was performing an emergency surfacing demonstration for civilian guests on board the ship when it surfaced under the Ehime Maru, a Japanese ship.
Within minutes, the ship that was carrying students and teachers from a fisheries school in Uwajima, Japan, had sunk.
Rescuers saved 26 people from the ship, and the US Navy had to pay a total of $16.5 million in compensation to the victims and their families.
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