The US Navy fired the leaders of the attack submarine that ran into an underwater mountain in the South China Sea

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Submarine USS Connecticut with aircraft carrier George Washington
Seawolf-class attack submarine USS Connecticut in the Pacific Ocean on November 17, 2009.US Navy/MCS1 John M. Hageman
  • The Navy sacked three command leaders of the attack submarine USS Connecticut.

  • The decision follows an incident last month in which the submarine crashed into an underwater mountain.

  • The commander of 7th Fleet determined the accident was preventable.

The command leadership of the attack submarine USS Connecticut were fired after an incident in the South China Sea early last month.

Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, who commands the US Navy's 7th Fleet, decided to relieve the nuclear-powered Seawolf-class attack submarine's commanding officer, Cmdr. Cameron Aljilani, as well as Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Cashin, the executive officer, and Master Chief Sonar Technician Cory Rogers, the chief of boat, due to loss of confidence on Thursday, the Navy said in a statement.

The decision comes just over a month after the submarine grounded on a seamount, which is to say it collided with an underwater mountain.

The Navy first reported on Oct. 7 that five days earlier the Connecticut struck an unidentified object.

The Navy statement offered few details, providing only that the submarine struck something while operating in international waters, there were no life-threatening injuries, the submarine was in stable condition, and the nuclear-propulsion systems were not damaged.

Though the Navy did not publicly disclose the location of the incident, defense officials speaking on the condition of anonymity revealed to some reporters after the release of the statement that it happened in the South China Sea. Officials also said that there were damages and that a dozen crew members were injured.

As of last Wednesday, the US Navy was not quite sure what the submarine hit, though defense officials told USNI News that early indications suggested that the Connecticut crashed into an undersea mountain.

On Monday, 7th Fleet announced that the command investigation into the incident "determined USS Connecticut grounded on an uncharted seamount while operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region."

That investigation was then passed to Thomas for accountability considerations.

After reviewing the investigation, the commander concluded that "sound judgement, prudent decision-making and adherence to required procedures in navigation planning, watch team execution and risk management could have prevented the incident," a 7th Fleet statement said Thursday.

The Connecticut, one of only three powerful Seawolf-class attack submarines built to hunt enemy submarines in deep waters, is currently in Guam undergoing a damage repair assessment before it returns to Bremerton, Washington for more extensive repair work.

The Navy said in its statement that Capt. John Witte will be taking over as the interim commanding officer, while Cmdr. Joe Sammur and Command Master Chief Paul Walters will assume the duties of interim executive officer and interim chief of the boat.

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