• Kyodo

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The Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine that on Monday collided with a commercial vessel in the Pacific Ocean off Shikoku suffered more extensive damage than initially thought, MSDF officials said Tuesday.

Part of the 84-meter-long Soryu's conning tower has been warped and its starboard hydroplane, which helps control depth, is broken, they said.

The submarine's communications equipment was also damaged in the accident, resulting in the incident not being reported for more than three hours after it occurred at around 10:55 a.m. off Cape Ashizuri in Kochi Prefecture.

Regarding the delayed accident report, top government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said at a news conference on Tuesday that the Defense Ministry should take measures to prevent such a communication delay from happening again.

MSDF Chief of Staff Hiroshi Yamamura apologized for the incident at a separate news conference and said there was no excuse for such a communication problem.

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said that the ministry will fully cooperate with the Japan Coast Guard's investigation.

Kishi said Monday the Soryu was unable to avoid hitting the commercial vessel despite the ship being visible in the submarine's periscope as it surfaced.

The 5th Regional Coast Guard Headquarter started an investigation into the cause of the collision Tuesday morning at Kochi Port, where the submarine, which was engaged in routine training, arrived late Monday. The Japan Transport Safety Board has also launched its own probe.

Three crew members on the submarine were slightly injured.

The commercial ship is believed to be the Ocean Artemis, a Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier, carrying around 20 Chinese crew members, according to coast guard sources.

The vessel is scheduled to arrive at Kobe Port in Hyogo Prefecture, the regional coast guard headquarters said Tuesday. Coast guard divers will check the condition of the vessel's hull.

The collision, which came on the heels of an MSDF destroyer hitting a Chinese fishing boat in March last year, was "truly regrettable," Kishi said.

The Soryu is a diesel-electric submarine with a standard displacement of 2,950 tons and a crew of about 65. It entered service in 2009 as the first of its class.

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