WASHINGTON – The Navy said Thursday that it fired the two senior officers in a nuclear-powered attack submarine that was damaged in an underwater collision last month in the South China Sea. A sailor who served as a senior adviser to the commander and the executive officer was also removed from his post.
The actions were taken by viceadm. Karl Thomas, commander of the US 7th Fleet, based in Japan.
“Thomas decided that sound judgment, careful decision-making and adherence to required procedures in navigation planning, guard duty and risk management could have prevented the incident,” according to a 7th Fleet statement.
As a result, the statement said Thomas relieved Cmdr. Cameron Aljilani as Commander, Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Cashin as chief executive officer, and Master Chief Sonar Technician Cory Rodgers as chief of the boat, “due to loss of confidence.” The chief of the boat is the chief adviser to the chief and the executive officer.
The Navy has not yet publicly explained how or why the USS Connecticut, a Seawolf-class submarine, hit an ocean or underwater mountain, or to reveal the extent of the damage to the vessel.
The Navy has said the submarine’s nuclear reactor and propulsion system were not damaged. The collision resulted in a small number of moderate and minor injuries to the crew. USNI News, which was the first to report that the submarine had hit a sea mountain, said damage to the front of the submarine damaged its ballast tank.
The incident happened on October 2, but was only reported by the Navy five days later, well after it had left the South China Sea. The vessel went to Guam for a damage assessment where it remains.
The 7th Navy Declaration Thursday also said the submarine will return at an unspecified time to Bremerton, Washington for repairs.