Japan’s Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo says it is extremely regrettable that a Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine has collided with a commercial ship.
The collision between submarine Souryu and the cargo ship occurred in waters off Cape Ashizuri in Kochi Prefecture, western Japan, at around 10:58 a.m. on Monday.
No injuries have been reported among the crew of the cargo ship. Three of the submarine’s crew suffered minor injuries. Officials say the three did not need to be taken to hospital.
The Defense Ministry says there is likely no damage to the hull of the commercial ship, but the submarine suffered damage to several parts, including an antenna mast that houses a periscope and a communication antenna.
The ministry says the collision is believed to have occurred when the submarine was ascending to the surface during a drill after a regular inspection.
Kishi told reporters that the crew made utmost efforts to confirm safety, and the collision was extremely regrettable.
Kishi said his ministry will determine the cause of the accident and try to ensure safety.
The ministry says the first report of the accident was made by mobile phone to the headquarters of the submarine group that the Soryu belongs to in western Japan around 2:20 p.m., nearly three and a half hours after the accident occurred.
Kishi said the collision damaged all communication systems and the submarine had to navigate to a place where it could catch mobile phone signals.