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US Navy sacks commander of submarine that crashed into underwater mountain

The Independent logo The Independent 05/11/2021 Namita Singh
File photo: The seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut arrives at a US Navy base in Yokosuka, Japan, on 31 July - AP © AP

File photo: The seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut arrives at a US Navy base in Yokosuka, Japan, on 31 July

- AP

The US Navy on Thursday fired three senior officers who were aboard a nuclear-powered attack submarine last month when it was damaged after crashing into an underwater mountain in the South China Sea.

The commander of the 7th Fleet, vice admiral Karl Thomas, sacked the three officers after determining that the “risk management could have prevented the incident.”

“Thomas determined sound judgement, prudent decision-making and adherence to required procedures in navigation planning, watch team execution and risk management could have prevented the incident,” said the statement from the 7th Fleet.

Due to a “loss of confidence,” the Navy relieved Commander Cameron Aljilani as commanding officer, lieutenant commander Patrick Cashin as executive officer, and master chief sonar technician Cory Rodgers as chief of the boat.

The three officers will be replaced by a new leadership team, while the submarine will remain in Guam for damage assessment, before making its way to Washington for repairs.

The incident occurred on 2 October, when USS Connecticut, a seawolf-class submarine, struck an uncharted sea mountain while operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region. It was, however, not reported by the Navy until five days later, well after the submarine had exited the South China Sea. At the time of the incident, the submarine had 140 crew, including 14 officers on board, of which about eleven were injured, reported Al Jazeera.

Two sailors suffered moderate injuries, while a third had bruises and lacerations, a naval official told ABC News. There was no damage to submarine’s nuclear reactor and propulsion system. The damage to the forward section of the submarine ruined its ballast tanks.

The Navy is yet to publicly share the extent of damage survived by the submarine.

According to the Navy, seawolf-class vessels are “quiet, fast, well-armed and equipped with advanced sensors” and have eight torpedo tubes.

Additional reporting by agencies

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