A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Soryu-class submarine collided with a commercial vessel leaving three crew members injured, Japan Times reported citing JMSDF.
The incident occurred when the submarine was surfacing 27 nautical miles (50 kilometers) south of Cape Ashizuri, Kochi Prefecture on Japan’s southwestern island of Shikoku on Monday morning just before 11 a.m.
There was slight damage to the submarine’s mast but it was reportedly able to continue sailing on its own.
The navy statement did not identify the commercial ship, but NHK public television reported it was the Hong Kong-registered bulk carrier Ocean Artemis. It was reportedly transporting 90,000 tons of iron to Okayama in western Japan after leaving the Chinese port of Qingdao last Friday with 21 Chinese crewmembers.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato confirmed the incident saying that the government had set up a liaison office at the crisis management center of the Prime Minister’s Office in response to the news and was in the process of gathering information.
It was not immediately clear if any of those aboard the commercial vessel had been hurt, but Kato said the ship had told the Japan Coast Guard it had not felt any contact with the submarine and it had not seen any damage to its hull.
Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters that the collision was extremely regrettable. He said the submarine temporarily lost communication signals due to the damage to its antenna mast.
The commercial ship left the scene but later told Japanese coast guard officials that it sustained no damage and its crew did not even feel the impact, Kishi said.
He said the cause of the accident wasn’t known and an investigation is underway.
Sōryū-class submarines (16SS) are diesel-electric attack submarines operated by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
Soryu’s design is an evolution of the previous Oyashio-class submarine, from which it can most easily be distinguished by its X-shaped stern combination diving planes and rudders.
The Soryu-class submarines have a length of 84 m and a displacement of 4,100 tonnes when submerged. They have the largest displacement of any submarine used by post-war Japan and is its first air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarine.
The boats are powered by two Kawasaki 12V 25/25 diesel engines and four Kawasaki Kockums V4-275R Stirling AIP engines. This enables them to have a top speed of 20 knots when submerged and of 12 kt when surfaced.
The Soryu-class boats are equipped with six HU-606 533 mm bow tubes that can fire Type 89 heavyweight torpedo. The boats are also capable of deploying the UGM-84C Harpoon medium-range anti-ship missile against surface targets. The vessels also have two 3-inch underwater countermeasure launcher tubes for launching of Acoustic Device Countermeasures (ADCs).
Each of the Soryu-class submarines has a crew complement of 65 (9 officers, 56 enlisted).
The first boat in the class entered service in 2009. The JMSDF currently operates 11 Soryu-class vessels