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US Navy orders safety stand down after finding sub leaders ‘fell short’ of navigation standards

WASHINGTON: Two senior Navy officers overseeing the operational submarine force today ordered a “force-wide navigational safety training” stand down in the wake of the attack submarine Connecticut (SSN 22) being forced to return to Gaum after it ran into an uncharted seamount.

Vice Adm. Bill Houston, commander of naval submarine forces, said he and Rear Adm. Jeffrey Jablon, commander of submarine forces, Pacific fleet, ordered the stand down based on early findings related to the early October incident involving apparent navigational failures by the crew.

“We have very rigorous navigation safety procedures and they fell short of what our standard was,” said Houston, referring to the boat’s leadership triad. The incident occurred Oct. 2, and roughly a month later the service announced the commanding officer, executive officer and chief of the boat were all relieved of command.

“That safety investigation board is not complete yet. But we know enough right now and as soon as this event happened, we shared it with the operational force, so they knew what happened,” Houston said, speaking at the Naval Submarine League symposium today.

Connecticut returned to Guam immediately after its allision and the service has since said it will transit to Washington for ongoing damage assessments and repairs. (In nautical terminology, a collision is when two moving objects strike each other, while an allision is when a vessel strikes a non-moving object.)

Houston did not comment on the status of the vessel itself during his remarks.

The stand down will not involve halting submarine operations and crews will review procedures for navigation planning, operations and risk management, a service spokesman told Navy Times. The spokesman also declined to release a copy of the fleet message citing classification levels.

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