Was US Nuclear Submarine Damaged By Chinese Planes?!

Was the US nuclear submarine, USS Connecticut, attacked and damaged by Chinese planes?

Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the FACTS really are!


Claim : US Nuclear Submarine Was Damaged By Chinese Planes!

There have been several blogs claiming that the US nuclear submarine, USS Connecticut, was actually attacked and damaged by Chinese planes.

Here is an example that is being eagerly shared on WhatsApp. It’s really long, so just skip to next section for the facts…

Dear Good People, (MP) This is the real story behind USA nuclear submarine incidence near to China’s Paracel Islands. The nuclear sub was tracked and China jammed all its electronic system. The submarine moved aimlessly and hit by China’s submarine trap wall. The nuclear submarine was damaged and know no direction. It has to emerge to China satisfaction. China of course, knew USA has learned a lesson. Next time, in a real war, the nuclear sub would be sunk….


Truth : US Nuclear Submarine Was Not Damaged By Chinese Planes

This is yet another example of Chinese propaganda / fake news, which attempts to overwhelm the reader by sheer volume of misinformation.

The creator intentionally writes such a long, rambling story to make it appear more convincing to readers who are likely not very knowledgeable about military technology.

Here’s another example : US Withdraws After Chinese Jamming Attack?

Here is a quick summary of the facts, which prove that the writer is a liar and the “article” is simply FAKE NEWS.

  1. It is incredibly difficult to detect and track USS Connecticut.
  2. It is not possible to jam a submarine’s electronics system.
  3. China does not have a submarine trap wall.
  4. The USS Connecticut was not crippled, and did not require assistance to return to Guam.
  5. China was not holding any war games at that time of the collision.
  6. China did not attack the USS Connecticut.
  7. China did not know about the collision until 5 days later.
  8. There is no evidence of any mutiny aboard the USS Connecticut
  9. Only 11 sailors were injured, not 15
  10. Submarines do not use radar underwater, they use sonar.
  11. There are no fixed sea or air lanes over international waters.

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For those who want the details, here are the reasons why this is just Chinese propaganda / fake news.

Fact #1 : USS Connecticut Is Super Hard To Detect

The USS Connecticut is a Seawolf-class submarine, which is noted for being extremely quiet and hard to detect.

Thanks to a slew of advanced noise suppression design features and technologies, including pump jet propulsion, it has an operational noise level of only 95 decibels – just 5 decibels above the background ocean noise.

That’s why the United States uses one of the Seawolf submarines – the USS Jimmy Carter – to conduct clandestine missions.

It would be a major feat to detect the USS Connecticut underwater, much less track it. Unless the writer can back up his/her claim, it is hogwash.

Fact #2 : China Did Not Jam Its Electronics System

With only a few exceptions, submarines like the USS Connecticut are made of high-tensile steel.

The strong steel hull not only protects the submarine from the crushing pressure when it dives, it literally works as a Faraday cage – protecting the submarine against electromagnetic fields.

Therefore, it is not possible to jam the electronics system of any submarine. That is complete and utter nonsense.

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Fact #3 : China Does Not Have A Submarine Trap Wall

The writer appears to believe that it would be possible to build some kind of underwater Great Wall of China.

There is no such thing as a submarine trap wall. What does that even mean???

Fact #4 : USS Connecticut Was Seaworthy

The crew of the USS Connecticut did not lose their sense of direction. Neither was the submarine crippled.

They surfaced after the collision, because it was their standard operating procedure after any non-combat collision.

According to the US Pacific Fleet, the submarine was in a “safe and stable condition” :

The submarine remains in a safe and stable condition. USS Connecticut’s nuclear propulsion plant and spaces were not affected and remain fully operational. The extent of damage to the remainder of the submarine is being assessed. The U.S. Navy has not requested assistance. The incident will be investigated.

It should be noted that the USS Connecticut sailed to Guam for 6 days, without assistance.

Fact #5 : China Was Not Holding Any War Games At That Time

When the USS Connecticut collision happened on 2 October 2021, China was in between two naval war games :

  • 23-27 August : Seaborne assault war game in Vladivostok, Russia
  • 14-17 October : Russia and China held naval drills in the Sea of Japan.

So the writer’s claim that China was conducting naval war games at that time is completely false.

The only war game being conducted around that time involved the HMS Queen Elizabeth and the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Carl Vinson carrier groups in the Philippine Sea on 4 October 2021.

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Fact #6 : China Did Not Attack USS Connecticut

The claim that China sent out waves of over a hundred attack aircraft to hunt for the submarine is false.

So many flights would have raised concerns by surrounding countries, and unless they are anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft, they would be useless in the hunt for a submarine.

China certainly would not be so stupid as to attack the USS Connecticut, which would have been considered an act of war against the United States.

Fact #7 : China Did Not Know Until 5 Days Later…

China was not even aware of the collision until the United States Naval Institute (USNI) reported on the accident FIVE days later on 7 October 2021.

By then, the USS Connecticut was just a day away from reaching Guam for inspection and repairs.

The Chinese think tank SCSPI only located the USS Connecticut on 8 October – in a 5 day-old satellite photo that showed it sailing on the surface.

At that time, the USS Connecticut was about 43 nautical miles (79 km) southeast from the Paracel Islands, and about 454 km away from Hainan Island.

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Fact #8 : No Evidence Of Mutiny

The writer claimed that there was a mutiny onboard the USS Connecticut because the Commander refused to surface the submarine.

How does he know that? What evidence has he proffered? None at all. It’s all one big fantasy.

It doesn’t even make sense – why would the sailors mutiny? Why would the submarine commander or his XO (Executive Officer) refuse to surface a submarine in trouble?

The SOP for any submarine in trouble is to surface, and that’s what the USS Connecticut did. That very fact proves that there was no mutiny, and the writer lied.

Fact #9 : Only 11 Sailors Were Injured

The writer even made up the claim that 15 sailors were injured in the mutiny. That’s nonsense.

11 sailors aboard the USS Connecticut suffered mild to moderate injuries, none life-threatening.

If the writer can lie about a simple fact like that, you have to ask yourself – what else is he lying about?

Fact #10 : Nuclear Submarines Do Not Use Radar Underwater

The writer falsely claimed that a nuclear attack submarine like the USS Connecticut would be able to avoid obstacles because it would have the most sophisticated radars.

The truth is – submarines do not use radar systems underwater, they use sonar systems. Even then, military submarines rarely use active sonar, as it exposes their positions.

It is not possible for USS Connecticut to “see” undersea structures using its passive sonar system. Instead, the crew relies on underwater charts and inertial navigation systems to avoid underwater obstacles.

But unless they regularly fix their position using GPS, small errors in their position will compound over time, potentially placing the submarine hundreds of metres out of position. This could be the reason for the collision.

It is shocking that the writer is unaware of such basic military / scientific facts.

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Fact #11 : No Fixed Sea / Air Lanes Over International Waters

The writer falsely claimed that commercial ships and airliners have to strictly travel in fixed international lanes.

In reality, commercial ships and planes use routes that are best for fuel economy and/or safety over international waters. Ships and planes are also free to adjust their bearings to avoid bad weather, for example.

Countries can only control movement of ships and planes within their territorial waters and airspace.

It is therefore false for the writer to claim that ships or planes that deviate from fixed international sea / air lanes will be shot down or sunk.


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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.


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