Tokyo, Feb. 8 (Jiji Press)–A Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine collided with a foreign commercial ship while surfacing off the western Japan prefecture of Kochi on Monday, causing slight injuries, such as a bruise, to three crew members of the submarine.
Crew members of the commercial ship told the Japan Coast Guard that they did not feel any impact from the collision with the Soryu submarine and that their vessel is believed to have sustained no damage, according to sources familiar with the situation.
The transport ministry’s Japan Transport Safety Board named three of its staff members to look into the cause of the accident, which occurred about 50 kilometers southeast of Cape Ashizuri in Kochi around 10:58 a.m. (1:58 a.m. GMT).
The Soryu was on a training voyage after a regular checkup when it hit the commercial ship, according to Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi. The submarine was unable to avoid the collision although it found the commercial vessel through a periscope while it was surfacing, the minister said.
“It is very regrettable that the collision has happened although (the MSDF submarine) was trying to ensure safety as much as possible during the operation,” Kishi said.
The Defense Ministry’s Maritime Staff Office set up a committee to investigate the accident.
With its antenna and other parts damaged, the Soryu temporarily lost all communication methods after the collision, but it later sailed into Kochi Port in the city of Kochi by itself.
The Soryu, belonging to the MSDF’s Submarine Flotilla 1 at the Kure base in Hiroshima Prefecture, western Japan, went into service in March 2009.
It is 84 meters long and 9.1 meters wide, and has a standard displacement of 2,950 tons.