Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Tuesday denied a Chinese accusation that the U.S. is seeking to cover up a submarine collision in the South China Sea.
“It’s an odd way of covering something up when you put out a press release about it,” Kirby said during a press conference when asked about China’s allegation.
Seawolf-class nuclear attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN-22) hit an unknown object while underwater on Oct. 2, injuring 11 sailors, USNI News previously reported.
The Navy has not yet said what Connecticut struck, and Kirby referred reporters to the Navy when asked. USNI News previously reported that it was not another vessel.
It took the Navy five days to release information on the crash, which prompted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian to question the details about the collision, according to a transcript of the foreign ministry’s Monday press conference.
“Such irresponsible attitude and stonewalling and cover-up practice only make the international community more suspicious of the US intention and details of the accident,” Zhao said, according to the transcript.
Zhao called on the United States to clarify the location of the accident, if there was any nuclear leakage and if the crash will affect fishery, according to the statement.
“The US side should take a responsible attitude, give a detailed account of what happened as soon as possible and make a satisfactory explanation to the international community and regional countries,” he said.
In an Oct. 7 statement, U.S. Pacific Fleet said the submarine’s nuclear propulsion plant and spaces are fully operational and were not affected.
Connecticut is in a “safe and stable condition,” according to the statement.
The submarine arrived at Naval Base Guam on Friday and is undergoing an assessment and preliminary repairs while the Navy investigates the crash, USNI News reported this week.
U.S. 7th Fleet is leading a command investigation into the crash, while Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet heads up a safety investigation, COMSUBPAC spokeswoman Cmdr. Cindy Fields previously told USNI News.
Connecticut, one of three Seawolf-class attack submarines, is based in Bremerton, Wash. The boat left in May to deploy to the Western Pacific and made at least two port calls to Japan before its crash.