The captain and two other leaders of the USS Connecticut were fired over the nuclear submarine’s October 2nd accident in the South China Sea. The US Navy’s Seventh Fleet said in a statement that the commanders were relieved “due to loss of confidence.”
Seventh Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Karl Thomas determined “sound judgment, prudent decision-making and adherence to required procedures in navigation planning, watch team execution and risk management could have prevented the incident.”
Earlier this week, the Navy said that it determined the Connecticut collided with an underwater mountain but offered no other detail about the incident. China responded by saying the US lacked “transparency and responsibility” over the incident.
The US has not disclosed where the accident occurred in the South China Sea, and Beijing is wondering if the submarine crash caused some kind of nuclear leakage. The US recently deployed a spy plane designed to detect radioactive debris to the South China Sea, a signal that Washington the accident was severe enough for the US to think it released nuclear materials.
The incident highlights the danger of the US military presence in the South China Sea. A report from The South China Morning Post that details the increase in US military activity in the region said that the US has deployed nuclear submarines to the South China Sea 11 times this year.