The United States Navy has fired three top crew members from a nuclear submarine that collided with an underwater mountain.
After an investigation into the incident in the disputed South China Sea, Commander Cameron Aljilani and two others were removed.
The USS Connecticut collided with the object last month, forcing the ship to surface for a week and sail to the US territory of Guam.
According to Navy officials, the crew members “could have prevented” the collision.
The navy announced last week that the submarine had encountered an uncharted “seamount” while patrolling beneath the surface.
A seamount is a mountain that rises from the seabed.
Minor injuries were sustained by fifteen sailors. The submarine is currently being inspected for damage in the Pacific at Guam before returning to Washington for repairs.
The incident occurred at a time when tensions in the region were rising.
Why are so many people fighting over the South China Sea?
The USS Connecticut was operating in one of the world’s most volatile regions. China claims the majority of the South China Sea, but neighboring countries and the United States disagree.
The incident occurred just weeks after the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia signed a historic security agreement to share submarine technology in the Asia-Pacific region, widely viewed as an effort to counter China’s power.
The crash infuriated Beijing officials, who questioned the vessel’s presence in the area and expressed concern about possible nuclear leakage.
According to Reuters, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said at a press conference on Friday that the US needed to give a full account of the incident and “stop its provocation.”
Officials from the US Navy have yet to explain how the ship collided with the seamount.
Ryan Ramsey, a former British Royal Navy submarine captain, was taken aback by the unusual collision.
“It’s kind of surprising because the USS Connecticut is a very modern submarine,”
“However, if you relax at any point, things can happen.”