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US naval vessels uncharted hazards: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2021-11-02 18:39
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File photo of the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) departs Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton for deployment in Bremerton, Washington on May 27, 2021. [Photo / Agencies]

Finally, one month after the United States Navy nuclear submarine USS Connecticut struck an unidentified object in the South China Sea on Oct 2, the US 7th Fleet said in an emailed statement to the media on Monday that what it had collided with was "an uncharted seamount".

Interestingly, the statement says that the accident happened while the submarine was "operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region". While the US Navy said on Oct 7 that the incident happened in the South China Sea, without specifying the specific location.

It seems the US does not want the world to realize the incident happened in waters where it habitually conducts what it likes to call its freedom of navigation operations. Probably because sending a nuclear attack submarine to the other side of the world to sneak around one of the busiest and most peaceful waterways in the world is a clear indication it is up to no good.

Given the covert nature of its mission, were it not for the damage done to the vessel, which forced it to sail on the surface to Guam for assessment and repairs, the world would not have known about the accident to the nuclear submarine, as the US would not have been forthcoming with the information otherwise.

It remains unknown how many submarines and underwater drones the US has deployed in the region. But given the frequency with which its naval vessels have been involved in collisions and with which fishermen have been netting smart submersibles bearing labels indicating they belong to either its navy or intelligence departments, the US has a lot of hazardous metal in the waters, both on and under the surface.

This is in stark contrast to the Gulf of Aden, another busy waterway, where the US is doing little to safeguard commercial and passenger ships that are being harassed by pirates.

Whenever the US cites a lofty excuse for its actions, such as freedom of navigation, countries should prick up their ears, as it signals that it is up to something that heralds no good.

It is local people's hard work in pursuit of better lives and their shared desire to settle disputes through peaceful means, rather than the US' risk-laden condescension and "protection", that have laid the foundation for the region's development.

The USS Connecticut is unlikely to be the last US naval vessel to run foul of Washington's geopolitical ambitions on the doorsteps of other countries.

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