COMSUBFOR: Sub Force Will Hold a Navigational ‘Stand Down’ Following Initial Results of USS Connecticut Collision Investigation

November 17, 2021 7:07 PM
USS Connecticut (SSN-22) departs Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for sea trials following a maintenance availability on Dec. 14, 2016. US Navy Photo

The Navy on Wednesday called for a navigational stand down following a nuclear attack submarine’s collision in the South China Sea last month.

Vice Adm. William Houston, commander of Naval Submarine Forces, said he and the head of submarine forces in the Pacific signed a message today calling for the stand down after Seawolf-class attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN-22) hit an unidentified seamount below the surface in the South China Sea.

“Admiral Jablon and I have sent out today a joint message having a navigational stand down. And we will have that and we will go ahead and learn our lessons. The safety investigation board is not complete yet, but we know enough right now,” Houston said at the annual Naval Submarine League conference. Houston was referring to Rear Adm. Jeffrey Jablon, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s submarine forces.

“And as soon as this event happened, we shared it with the operational force, such that they knew what happened. And now we know the details and are sharing that. And that goes back to the critique and oversight process that we have,” Houston added.

A spokesperson for Naval Submarine Forces told USNI News the Navy will perform “navigational safety training” across its undersea forces due to the collision.

“The Submarine Force is conducting force-wide navigational safety training as a result of the incident onboard the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN-22),” said Cmdr. Paul Macapagal.

Earlier this month, U.S. 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Karl Thomas relieved Connecticut’s commanding officer, executive officer and chief of the boat “due to loss of confidence” following the collision.

“We have very rigorous navigation safety procedures and they fell short of what our standard was,” Houston said today.

He did not elaborate on the nature of the stand down. Following the fatal 2017 warship collisions, the crews of the Navy’s surface fleet held a series of stand downs to reassert basic watchstanding and navigation tenents.

A safety board investigation into the collision is ongoing and the completed command investigation is at 7th Fleet for review by Thomas.

“We will find our deficiencies and we will correct them,” Houston said.

The boat is currently in Guam for repairs and will eventually head to Bremerton, Wash., for more repairs.

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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