Leadership of U.S. submarine in South China Sea crash relieved of command – officials

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WASHINGTON -The leadership of an American nuclear-powered submarine that hit a seamount in the South China Sea last month will be relieved of command, U.S. officials told Reuters on Thursday.

The U.S. Navy fast-attack submarine Connecticut hit the submerged object last month but there were no serious injuries and the vessel is currently in Guam. Fifteen people suffered minor injuries such as bruises and lacerations.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the leadership was relieved because of a loss of confidence after the crash and that an investigation was underway.

They said three service members would be removed from their positions on the submarine.

It is not clear how long it will take to the repair the submarine. While such crashes are rare, Navy ships in the Pacific have had a number of accidents in recent years.

In 2017, a U.S. guided missile destroyer collided with an oil tanker near Singapore, killing 10 sailors.

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At a regular press briefing on Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin urged the U.S. to provide a full account of the details of the accident and “stop its provocation.”

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Raissa Kasolowsky)