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Three injured after JMSDF Soryu class collides with commercial ship

Three personnel onboard a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Soryu-class diesel-electric submarine (SSK) were injured after the boat collided with a commercial vessel in waters off Southern Japan on 8 February.

The Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, Katsunobu Kato, confirmed in a media conference on 9 February that the collision took place while the submarine was deployed on a routine training mission in the Japanese prefecture of Kochi. The submarine was in the process of surfacing at the time of the mishap, he added.

Kato has not provided details of the commercial ship that was involved in the incident, but local media reports have identified it as the Hong Kong-registered bulk carrier Ocean Artemis. There were no injuries reported from the commercial ship.

During the media conference, Kato also referred to the SSK that was involved in the collision as the Soryu submarine, but no confirmation is available from neither the Japanese defence ministry nor the JMSDF on whether it is indeed the first-of-class Soryu (SS 501). The JMSDF operates a fleet of 11 Soryu-class boats, with a 12th vessel scheduled for commissioning in March 2021.

The Soryu class has a length of 84 m, a beam of 9.1 m, and a hull draught of 8.5 m. The boat has a top speed of 20 kt when submerged, and 12 kt when surfaced. It is equipped with six 533 m bow tubes and can deploy the Japanese-developed Type 89 heavyweight torpedo.

As a result of the collision, part of the submarine’s mast, steering, and communication systems were damaged, said Kato. However, the vessel did not sustain any damage to its hull and was able to sail to Kochi Port, where it is now docked for investigations, under its own power, he added.

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