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US Navy sacks leadership of submarine that hit seamount in South China Sea

USS Connecticut
US Navy file photo of USS Connecticut

The US Navy has relieved the team leading the Seawolf-class submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22), after the submarine hit an uncharted seamount during operations in the South China Sea last month.

Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, commander of the US 7th Fleet, relieved Cmdr. Cameron Aljilani as commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Cashin as executive officer, and Master Chief Sonar Technician Cory Rodgers as chief of the boat, of USS Connecticut on November 4, “due to loss of confidence.”

Adm. Thomas determined that the incident could have been prevented by sound judgement, prudent decision-making and adherence to required procedures in navigation planning, watch team execution and risk management.

The leadership was relieved after the completion of a nearly month-long investigation into the accident from October 2. Following the collision, the submarine transited to Guam under its own power, where it remains to this day for further inspections. The boat is expected to return to Bremerton, Washington for repairs.

The Navy previously said that the submarine’s nuclear propulsion plant and spaces were not affected by the accident and remain fully operational.

Capt. John Witte will assume duties as interim commanding officer. Cmdr. Joe Sammur will assume duties as interim executive officer. Command Master Chief Paul Walters will assume duties as interim chief of the boat.

USS Connecticut was on a deployment to the Pacific at the time of the collision, having departed its Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton homeport in May.

During its 2021 deployment, the submarine operated in the Western Pacific visiting Japan twice.