Japanese submarine collides with commercial ship while surfacing in Pacific Ocean

Our Foreign Staff
·2 min read
Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine Souryu off Kochi port in the western Japan main island of Shikoku on Feb. 9, 2021, following its collision with a commercial vessel in the Pacific Ocean off Shikoku the previous da - Kyodo/Newscom / Newscom
Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine Souryu off Kochi port in the western Japan main island of Shikoku on Feb. 9, 2021, following its collision with a commercial vessel in the Pacific Ocean off Shikoku the previous da - Kyodo/Newscom / Newscom

A Japanese submarine crashed into a commercial ship while surfacing off the country’s southern coast on Monday.

The navy submarine was damaged in the collision near the tip of Shikoku Island, with three officers sustaining minor injuries.

Soryu, the first submarine in Japan’s fleet to be powered on electricity and diesel, scraped its mast on the underside of the cargo ship’s hull. Pictures taken upon breaching showed damage to the fairwater planes - wings along the mast to help tilt the vessel up and down.

“Soryu scraped the hull of the vessel as it was surfacing. It is extremely regrettable the MSDF [Military Self Defence Force] submarine has collided with a commercial ship," Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said.

The commercial ship, the Hong Kong-registered Ocean Artemis, was not damaged, according to the Japanese coast guard. Japan’s Defence Ministry said that the communications systems of Soryu were able to operate despite minor disruption.

Japan submarine collides with commercial ship off Shikoku Original description: Photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter shows Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine Souryu off Kochi port in the western Japan main island of Shikoku on Feb. 9, 2021, following its collision with a commercial vessel in the Pacific Ocean off Shikoku the previous day. A fin (L) on the starboard side of the submarine is seen bent over - Kyodo/Newscom / Newscom / Avalon
Japan submarine collides with commercial ship off Shikoku Original description: Photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter shows Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine Souryu off Kochi port in the western Japan main island of Shikoku on Feb. 9, 2021, following its collision with a commercial vessel in the Pacific Ocean off Shikoku the previous day. A fin (L) on the starboard side of the submarine is seen bent over - Kyodo/Newscom / Newscom / Avalon

Officials also stressed that that vessel’s seaworthiness had not been affected. Some experts disputed that assessment, with the former US Navy Captain Bradley Martin telling CNN, “I wouldn’t call that damage ‘minor’. That ship can’t dive and can’t communicate.”

In 2009 Britain’s HMS Vanguard and the French Triomphante, two nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, collided in the Atlantic Ocean. Reports suggested neither had been using active sonar, as they were not on patrol.

Eight years before, in 2001, a US attack submarine surfaced below a Japanese fishing vessel near Honolulu, wrecking the ship and killing nine people.

The US government paid $16.5 million compensation to families of the victims, four of whom were high school students from a fisheries school gaining experience on the boat.