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U.S. submarine's grounding 'preventable,' says Navy probe

U.S. submarine's grounding 'preventable,' says Navy probe
The grounding of USS Connecticut on Oct. 2, 2021, was the result of a slew of errors, a Navy investigation published Monday said. Photo by Lt. Mack Jamieson/U.S. Navy

May 24 (UPI) -- A U.S. Navy investigation into October's grounding of a U.S. submarine on a seamount in the South China Sea has determined the incident was "preventable."

The report published Monday states the USS Connecticut grounded Oct. 2 on an uncharted seamount in a poorly surveyed area of international waters in the Indo-Pacific region as a result of an accumulation of errors and omissions in navigation planning, watch-team execution and risk management that "fell far below U.S. Navy standards."

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"Prudent decision-making and adherence to required procedures in any of these three areas could have prevented the grounding," Rear Adm. Christopher Cavanaugh, who led the investigation, wrote in the report.

"No single action or inaction caused this mishap."

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The grounding saw 11 crew sustain minor injuries and the vessel removed from operations for an extended period of time for repairs. Its leading officers were also fired as a result of the incident in November.

"A grounding at this speed and depth had the potential for more serious injuries, fatalities and even loss of the ship," Cavanaugh said.

Cavanaugh added that actions taken by the crew and its leadership following the grounding were "effective" as the vessel was put in a stable condition on the ocean's surface and injuries and damaged equipment were attended.

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The investigation found that the vessel's navigation plan for the day of the grounding did not meet safe navigation standards as its review team failed to identify and mark at least 10 charted hazards located in the vicinity of where the incident took place as well as incorrectly assessed the submarine would be operating in open waters.

The report also said the vessel collided with a pier last April, which the report framed as an incident that should have been a "significant opportunity for self-reflection and improvement" for Connecticut's leadership.

In response the grounding, the report recommended 28 corrective actions. The Navy said 14 of those actions have been completed, 13 are in progress and one action is "enduring."

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"The Navy is urgently implementing these improvements across the Submarine Force," the U.S. military branch said in a statement. "In implementing these significant improvements, the Navy will become a more effective fighting force."

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