Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia

Speaker Christian Reiterates Concern over Recent Sub Accident

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Congress): February 01, 2005 - Speaker of the FSM Congress, Peter M. Christian (Pohnpei), has elaborated on remarks made during the recently concluded session of the FSM Congress expressing his concern over the recent grounding of a US nuclear submarine in FSM waters off Yap State.

Christian expressed the heartfelt condolences of Congress to the family and friends of the sailor killed in the accident and his best wishes for a full and speedy recovery to those injured.

Shortly after the incident, in a statement delivered before Congress, the Speaker had expressed his disappointment at the dearth of information forthcoming to the FSM Government from the Department of Defense regarding the incident. He was particularly distressed that there was no formal notification of Congress when the incident occurred, and that he was left to try and reconstruct events based on published news accounts. It was only through piecing together scant public descriptions of the accident that he was able to determine that the accident had taken place in the territory of the FSM. Under these circumstances, Christian stated, it was difficult to not surmise the worst.

Christian acknowledged that he has since learned that there are many sensitivities surrounding the incident and he stated that he is reassured to have since learned of an ongoing dialogue between the FSM executive branch and the US Government on the matter. Still, Christian stated, there remain serious questions to be answered regarding this incident, and the steps that can be taken to avoid similar accidents in the future.

In the recent accident, on January 8, 2005, the US San Francisco struck an undersea mountain at high speed. One sailor was killed by the impact, and 23 were injured. To date, the US has not disclosed exactly where the mountain is located, but it is thought to be roughly 350 miles south of Guam in the FSM's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The San Francisco is a Los Angeles-class attack sub that typically carries a crew of 137.

Christian is grateful that early indications show no environmental contamination from the recent incident. However, he stated that the recent accident shows that the FSM risks catastrophic consequences whenever nuclear-powered submarines transit its waters. There is always the danger, he concluded, that the people of the FSM will not be as "lucky" should similar accidents occur in the future.

For further information on this release, please contact:

Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia
Public Information Office
P.O Box PS-3
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2324/2325
Fax.: (691) 320-5122