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US submarine commander fired after crash into sea mountain

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Navy on Friday (Nov 5) sacked the commanding officer, executive officer and top enlisted sailor of a nuclear-powered submarine that crashed into an underwater mountain, saying the Oct 2 accident was preventable.

Commander Cameron Aljilani and two others were removed from their positions following an investigation into the crash in the disputed South China Sea.

The USS Connecticut was forced to sail on the surface for a week to reach Guam.

“Sound judgement, prudent decision-making and adherence to required procedures in navigation planning, watch team execution and risk management could have prevented the incident,” the western Pacific-based 7th Fleet said in a statement.

After a damage assessment in Guam, the vessel will return to the US submarine base in Bremerton, Washington for repairs.

Last week the navy said the investigation showed that the submarine struck an uncharted “seamount” while patrolling below the surface.

Eleven sailors were injured in the accident. According to reports, the crash damaged the sub’s forward ballast tanks, but its nuclear plant was not damaged.

The US Navy regularly conducts operations in the region to challenge China’s disputed territorial claims on small islands, reefs and outcrops.

Aljilani was replaced by an interim commanding officer.

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