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Navy SEAL mini-sub has mysterious underwater collision

Members of SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team Two preparing to launch one of the team's SEAL Delivery Vehicles from the back of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Philadelphia on a training exercise. (US Navy photo by Chief Photographer's Mate Andrew McKaskle)
November 15, 2022

A U.S. Navy SEAL miniature submarine, known as a SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV), suffered a mishap last month during a training mission. Many details of the accident or the underlying training mission remain a mystery.

The SDV, which is launched from a larger submarine and ferries SEALs underwater on special operations, ran into an underwater object, according to Naval Safety Command statement provided to Navy Times. The mishap occurred on Oct. 24 and Navy officials only confirmed the incident last week.

According to the safety command statement, an SDV “allided” with a stationary underwater object. An allision is when a maritime vessel strikes a stationary object.

Naval Special Warfare Command spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Kara Handley told Navy Times no personnel were injured in the underwater mishap. While no people were injured, the Naval Safety Command listed the incident as a “Class A” mishap, referring to an incident where the Navy incurs $2,500,000 or more in equipment damage and/or an aircraft destroyed or a service member dies or suffers permanent total disability.

Handley did not specify where the mishap occurred and the exact nature of this SDV training event is also unclear.

An SDV is classified as a wet-open submersible, meaning its SEAL and combat diver passengers must wear scuba gear in order to remain underwater with their submersible ride.

SDVs are operated by SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams One and Two as well as the United Kingdom’s special operations unit the Special Boat Service.

This spring, the Naval Special Warfare Command announced it is working to get its Mark 11 SDVs operational to eventually replace the older Mark 8 SDVs.

According to Navy Times, this Oct. 24 SDV allision is the second Class A afloat mishap to occur since the start of the 2023 fiscal year on Oct. 1.

In October of last year, the U.S. Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN-22) crashed into an underwater mountain in the South China Sea, resulting in injuries to the crew.