An uncharted seamount became known when a nuclear-powered submarine stranded in the South China Sea last month collided. A Seawolf-class high-speed attack submarine, USS Connecticut, collided with an unknown object on the high seas on October 2, injuring 11 crew members from minor to moderate injuries.
The damaged submarine surfaced and arrived at the port of Guam without assistance. The Navy did not reveal the full extent of the damage, and the Navy at the time said it was “not another submarine” that collided with the ship.
An investigation found that the Connecticut “grounded on an uncharted seamount,” the 7th Fleet said in a statement. It added that the fleet’s commander will now weigh “whether follow-on actions, including accountability are appropriate.” This implies that human error might have somehow played a role in the submarine’s crisis.
A seamount near Guam was blamed for a submarine collision in 2005, when the USS San Francisco hit an uncharted seamount, resulting in numerous injuries and one death among the crew.
Seamounts, or underwater mountains, are the remains of extinct submarine volcanoes. Most of the seamounts are conical, but some seamount s (called guiyots) have large, flat peaks. Seamounts are a biological hotspot for marine life, as their steep aspects facilitate the upwelling of nutrients from the deep sea and provide a place for fixed organisms such as corals and sponges to settle and grow. According to NOAA, at least 3,281 feet (1,000 meters) of more than 100,000 seamounts can be scattered on the ocean floor, but scientists have mapped less than 0.1% of them.
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