Published: November 5, 2021
The leaders of a Navy submarine that struck an undersea mountain last month in the South China Sea were fired Thursday.
The commanding officer of the fast-attack submarine Connecticut, Cmdr. Cameron Aljilani, his second-in-command, Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Cashin, and the chief of the boat, Master Chief Sonar Technician Cory Rodgers, were relieved due to a loss of confidence, according to a statement by the Japan-based U.S. 7th Fleet.
Seventh Fleet leadership “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,” according to the statement.
The Navy did not release further details Thursday regarding exactly how the command failed to prevent the mishap, and 7th Fleet officials have not said whether the command investigation into the mishap—completed this week and awaiting final endorsement—will be made public.
Submarine Force Pacific is conducting its own safety investigation into the mishap, as well.
The secretive and pricey Seawolf-class sub was in its fifth month of a deployment when it collided with the seamount on Oct. 2.
Eleven sailors were injured in the accident, but officials said none of the injuries were serious.
While the Navy has yet to explain the nature or extent of the sub’s damage, the accident prompted the boat to surface and then head to Guam.
The boat will eventually make its way to Bremerton, Washington, for repairs.
While experts told Navy Times this week that operating undetected in the South China Sea’s shallow and mountainous terrain is always a challenge, the relief suggests that higher-ups believe the collision was preventable.
It’s been a hard year for the Connecticut crew in general.
Earlier this year, crew members reached out to Navy Times, alleging a bed bug infestation on board.
Several sailors said the command had been slow to adequately address the problem, though higher-command officials said the issue was later rectified.
Capt. John Witte has assumed interim command of the sub, while Cmdr. Joe Sammur is assuming the duties of executive officer and Command Master Chief Paul Walters will serve for now as the interim chief of the boat.