Three senior crew members onboard a nuclear submarine that collided with an undersea mountain have been fired by the US Navy.
After a probe into the incident in the disputed South China Sea, Commander Cameron Aljilani and two others were dismissed.
Last month, the USS Connecticut collided with the object, forcing the ship to surface for a week before sailing to the US territory of Guam.
The crew members “could have averted” the incident, according to Navy officials.
The navy said last week that the submarine had encountered an unexplored “seamount” while cruising under the surface.
A seamount is an underwater mountain that rises from the seabed.
Fifteen sailors were injured, although only in minor ways. The submarine is being inspected for damage on the Pacific island of Guam before returning to Washington for repairs.
The event occurred when tensions in the region were increasing.
The USS Connecticut was stationed in one of the world’s most dangerous areas. The majority of the South China Sea is claimed by China, while neighboring nations including the United States disagree.
The incident occurred only weeks after the US, UK, and Australia signed a landmark security deal in the Asia-Pacific to exchange submarine technology, largely perceived as a response to China’s growing influence.
The incident infuriated officials in Beijing, who questioned why the ship was in the area and expressed concern about probable nuclear leaks.
According to the Reuters news agency, a Chinese foreign ministry official said on Friday that the US needs to offer a thorough explanation of the event and “cease its provocation.”
Officials from the US Navy have yet to explain how the ship collided with the seamount.
Former British Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey expressed surprise at the accident, which he described as “quite unusual.”
“It’s unexpected since the USS Connecticut is a highly contemporary submarine,” he told the BBC. “However, things can happen if you relax at any stage.”