SEOUL, South Korea -- The U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk and a nuclear-powered Soviet attack submarine collided in darkness in the southern Sea of Japan Wednesday but neither ship suffered apparent damage, officials said.
Reports from the conventionally powered 80,000-ton carrier said none of the 5,000 personnel aboard were injured in the collision with the 5,200-ton submarine and there was no damage to its hull.
Pentagon officials said the massive U.S. ship 'shuddered' as it came in contact with the sub, which sources in Washington identified as a Victor-1 class attack craft that carries a crew of 90 and 18 torpedoes.
There was 'no apparent damage' to the submarine, said a statement issued by the Pentagon in Washington and the U.S. Navy in Seoul, South Korea. A Pentagon official said the Kitty Hawk stood by 'to render any assistance it can to the sub.'
CBS News reported from Washington, however, that the sub was 'dead in the water' and was being guarded by a Soviet ship.
It was not known whether the carrier hit the sub or vice versa, but sources said the 'burden is on the submarine' concerning the right of way on the high seas. One source in Washington said he thought the sub hit the carrier as it was surfacing.
The American ship, whose home port is San Diego, Calif., has been in the Japan Sea since March 1, participating in military exercises with South Korean naval units.
The collision occurred at 8:07 a.m. EST -- 10:07 p.m. local time - as the carrier steamed at 15 knots toward the Yellow Sea, 150 miles east of South Korea, the Pentagon and military sources said.
President Reagan was informed of the incident and 'has what details are available from the carrier,' White House spokesman Larry Speakes said in Washington. In a formal statement, the Pentagon said, 'Following a noticeable shudder which was felt throughout the ship, observers on the starboard (right) side of Kitty Hawk saw the outline of the sail (conning tower) of a submarine resembling that of a Soviet Victor Class moving away from the ship.' The statement did not identify the sub specifically.
After the collision, the submarine moved away slowly in a northerly direction under its own power and was joined by a Soviet Kara Class cruiser, the Petropavlovsk, the Washington sources said.
A Soviet submarine was known to be shadowing the carrier, which was participating in 'Team Spirit 84' joint exercises with South Korean navy units. The carrier was not conducting flight operations at the time of the collision, the sources said.
'The submarine is on the surface,' the Pentagon statement said, adding that a visual sighting of the boat by one of the carrier's SH-3H helicopters 'indicated no apparent damage. Ships of the battle group are remaining in the area to render assistance if required.'
Another Pentagon official said, 'The Soviets never accept any help from us.'
That was the case Nov. 2 when a later model of the Victor Class, a Victor-3, surfaced in distress in the Atlantic Ocean about 470 miles east of Bermuda. It eventually was towed to Cuba for repairs.