Damaged Submarine USS Connecticut Appears In San Diego After Secret Journey From Guam (Updated)

The damaged USS Connecticut’s covert journey across the Pacific must have been an arduous and complex affair.

byTyler Rogoway| UPDATED Dec 12, 2021 4:42 PM
Damaged Submarine USS Connecticut Appears In San Diego After Secret Journey From Guam (Updated)
Share

The badly damaged Seawolf class nuclear fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN-22) has just appeared in San Diego after making a covert transit from Guam, all but certainly sailing the entire way on the surface. It had been staged on that island for around two months following its collision with an underwater seamount in the South China Sea on October 2nd, 2021. Thanks to our friends at @Warshipcam who spotted and identified the submarine entering San Diego Bay on the local San Diego Webcam, we also get a far clearer look at the damage done to the prized submarine—its entire bow sonar dome is indeed missing.

We have more or less known that Connecticut had left Guam for many days now as the sub had not appeared in satellite imagery at its previous berth in Guam. We reached out to the Navy for information as to its whereabouts, but we did not receive a response, which further pointed to it being on a secretive surface transit across the Pacific. 

We had thought Connecticut's most likely destination would have been its home in Bremerton, Washington. That is where the three Seawolf class submarines are based. Navy statements also supported that assumption. But now we know San Diego was where it was headed, at least first. Washington state is 5,600 miles from Guam direct. San Diego is farther at 6,200 miles, but the course to San Diego takes it close to islands where it could abort its voyage to safely, namely Hawaii. One of the Navy's master submarine bases is in San Diego at Point Loma. It's possible, if not probable, that it could still travel to Washington after this stop.

The reason it didn't stay in Guam is that there is no drydock there to make any sort of significant repairs to the vessel. Pearl Harbor is the closest location with such capabilities, but considering there are only three boats in the Seawolf class, it may have been a challenge for it to take on such a unique repair job. Its drydock facilities are also extremely heavily tasked and are a strategic asset in the Pacific that would have had their capacity decreased, possibly for years, if Connecticut called on it to repair its damage. 

A 6,200 mile surface transit in a submarine that is damaged and doesn't even have a bow sonar dome must have been extremely unpleasant. We also don't know what sort of escorts Connecticut must have had for her trans-Pacific transit. We have reached out to the Navy for comment and will update this post as soon as we hear back. 

UPDATE:

This is all the Navy was willing to convey to us in response to our questions about Connecticut's journey: 

USS Connecticut (SSN 22) is in port in San Diego. The submarine remains in a safe and stable condition.

Thank you,

Cindy

CDR Cindy Fields

Force Public Affairs Officer

Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet

It's also worth mentioning that the destroyer USS Mustin arrived in San Diego not long after USS Connecticut. It's possible that she provided security for the stricken submarine on at least part of its voyage. 

Mustin left San Diego on November 26th and was in Pearl Harbor on December 1st, so the dates seem to line up. Still, U.S. warships can make this transit for a number of reasons. 

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com

stripe