Monday, February 8, 2021

Attack Submarine and Dry Bulk Tanker Collide off Japanese Coast

No Serious Injuries as Merchant Ship 'Doesn't Notice' Collision
Shipping News Feature

JAPAN – Reports have come in from the Japanese Coast Guard that one of the country's military submarines has been damaged in a collision with a merchant vessel.

It seems that the Soryu collided with the Ocean Artemis, a Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier carrying 90,000 tonnes of iron ore en route from Port of Mizushima in Okayama Prefecture, having departed Qingdao on 5 February with its cargo. It is likely the Soryu, apparently on a training exercise, was struck while surfacing.

Evidence for this is that, not only did any of the 21 strong crew of the ore carrier notice the accident, but reports are that the periscope and communications antennae of the submarine were damaged. Due to this there was a delay in notifying Japan’s Maritime Self Defence Force which only found out after a mobile phone call some three hours later to Submarine Flotilla 1 headquarters at the Kure Base in the Hiroshima Prefecture.

Some reports contradict the ‘didn’t notice’ argument with claims that the Ocean Artemis slowed to 4 knots after the collision and then proceeded at reduced speed. These reports also mention damage to the submarine’s diving control planes.

The Soryu, or Blue Dragon is a diesel-electric attack submarine and the first such air-independent propelled craft deployed by the Japanese. The accident happened at around 11:00 hours local time about 22 nautical miles southeast of Cape Ashizuri in Kochi Prefecture. Three submariners were injured in the collision, none of them seriously enough to require hospitalisation.

The country’s Transportation Safety Board has appointed three investigators to look into the accident and the affair was publicly reported in a press conference by Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, while the Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said the incident was ‘regrettable’ and the submarine was repotedly now making its way into port nearby.

Photo: US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Randall W. Ramaswamy of Soryu alongside submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) for a touch-and-go exercise.