US Navy Orders Pause for Entire Submarine Fleet After Crash in South China Sea

by Chris Haney
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On Wednesday, the US Navy ordered a pause of its entire submarine force following a crash last month in the South China Sea.

Back on Oct. 2, the USS Connecticut, a nuclear-powered attack submarine, wrecked against a hard object at sea. An investigation into the incident ensued, and its recent results this week led to the immediate stand-down of the entire fleet.

Five days after the accident, the US Navy shared a statement on their damaged $3 billion submarine. The military shared limited information on the incident, but did report that the USS Connecticut was stable. In addition, no personnel sustained life-threatening injuries. Officials did not reveal the exact location of the collision, but did share its general location in the South China Sea.

The US Navy completed their initial investigation earlier this month. Officials concluded that the watercraft hit an “uncharted seamount.” Yet the cause of the incident and the crew’s response is still unknown. Naval officials also took action against some of the involved crew.

Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, the commander of US 7th Fleet, fired the USS Connecticut’s command leadership. The move effectively placed blame for the incident on commanding officer, Cmdr. Cameron Aljilani. Additionally, Thomas relieved Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Cashin and Master Chief Sonar Technician Cory Rogers of their jobs due to loss of confidence.

In a statement, Thomas revealed multiple factors as to why the crash should’ve been avoided. He said that “sound judgment” and “prudent decision-making” was not used. Further, Thomas stated that “adherence to required procedures in navigation planning, watch team execution, and risk management could have prevented the incident.”

US Navy Taking Further Steps To Ensure Future Incidents Are Avoided

While the US Navy took action against some of the USS Connecticut’s crew, they’re also taking further steps to ensure a similar collision doesn’t happen in the future. Vice Adm. William Houston, commander of Naval Submarine Forces, ordered an entire safety stand-down, Breaking Defense first reported this week.

“We will have that and we will go ahead and learn our lessons,” Houston stated at a recent naval event. “The safety investigation board is not complete yet, but we know enough right now.”

“We have very rigorous navigation safety procedures and they fell short of what our standard was,” he added.

Business Insider spoke to Naval Submarine Forces spokesman Cmdr. Paul Macapagal about the US Navy’s extra safety precautions.

“The Submarine Force is conducting force-wide navigational safety training as a result of the incident onboard the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut,” Macapagal said.

“Submarine crews will be reviewing the lessons learned from USS Connecticut and governing doctrine to reinforce sound navigation practices. Submarine crews will review required procedures in navigation planning, operations, risk management, and best practices as part of this training,” he continued.

The Naval leaders deemed the safety training a stand-down. But the submarine fleet will continue to operate and deploy per usual.

Outsider.com