The Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) departs Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for sea trials following a maintenance availability, Dec. 15, 2016, in Washington.

The Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) departs Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for sea trials following a maintenance availability, Dec. 15, 2016, in Washington. U.S. Navy via AP / Thiep Van Nguyen II

Navy Fires Commander, Other Leaders of Damaged Submarine

A separate safety investigation is still proceeding into the Oct. 2 grounding of USS Connecticut.

Updated 4:11 p.m. 

The captain and two other leaders of the USS Connecticut were relieved for “loss of confidence” after the submarine hit an underwater mountain in the South China Sea, the Navy announced Thursday.

A command investigation into the Oct. 2 incident found that the Seawolf-class nuclear attack submarine grounded on an uncharted seamount while operating in international waters, U.S. 7th Fleet said Monday.

7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Karl Thomas reviewed the investigation and on Thursday relieved Cmdr. Cameron Aljilani, the commanding officer; Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Cashin, the executive officer; and Master Chief Sonar Technician Cory Rodgers, Chief of the Boat, 7th Fleet said in a Thursday statement. 

“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,” the statement said.

Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, is leading the safety investigation into the incident, a Navy spokeswoman said Thursday.

Earlier in the day, Thursday, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said that he was confident that the investigations will determine if people need to be held accountable. 

“And if they do need to be held accountable, they will be held accountable,” Del Toro said at the 2021 Aspen Security Forum in Washington, D.C.

The grounding injured 11 sailors and damaged the ballast tanks in the submarine’s forward section, U.S. Naval Institute News reported, forcing the boat to travel to Guam for damage assessment. The submarine is still in Guam and will return to its homeport of Bremerton, Washington, for repairs, 7th Fleet said.

The Connecticut is the second U.S. submarine in recent decades to collide with a seamount. In 2005, the attack sub San Francisco ran aground about 350 miles south of Guam. That sub was repaired and served another 11 years.

Two 7th Fleet surface ships collided with other vessels in separate incidents in 2017.


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