A naval survey of October ruled of a submarine into a submarine ridge in the South China Sea was “preventable” and followed navigation planning and risk management errors as well as other errors.
The errors “fell far short of US Navy standards,” according to the command investigationand the accident rendered the USS Connecticut nuclear-powered Seawolf-class submarine unable to operate “for extended periods of time” due to the damage.
Eleven sailors suffered minor injuries in the accident, the most serious of which was a laceration to the scalp and a broken shoulder blade. But on the voyage to Guam, where Connecticut was heading for the crash, the ship’s management found that more than a third of the crew would benefit from mental health care.
“A grounding at this speed and depth had the potential for more serious injuries, deaths and even loss of the ship,” wrote Rear Admiral Christopher Cavanaugh, who led the investigation.
In November, the Navy relieved the ship’s management of their duties, including the commander-in-chief, the executive officer and the boat’s commander. The completed command investigation recommends that three other crew members be removed from their posts.
The navigation review team, which includes the commander-in-chief, failed to locate and mark at least 10 underwater hazards near the site of the grounding, the investigation found, and the team incorrectly concluded that the submarine would operate in an open area. The submarine also suffered from “low standards” because the ship’s management did not hold sailors responsible for navigational errors or deficiencies.
The investigation also revealed a previous accident on the USS Connecticut. In April 2021, the submarine collided with a pier at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego. At the time, a study found “deteriorating standards” in navigation, planning and seamanship, but the accident was dismissed as “an abnormal performance and not a systemic failure.”