Commander of sub that collided with cruiser relieved of duty in Norfolk

The commanding officer of a Norfolk-based submarine that collided with a cruiser in October was relieved of duty Friday.

Cmdr. Thomas Winter, commanding officer of the Los Angeles-class submarine USS Montpelier (SSN 765), was relieved by Capt. Blake Converse, commander of Submarine Squadron Six in Norfolk, Va., due to a loss of confidence in Winter's ability to command, the Navy said Friday.

The Montpelier and the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56) collided off the coast of Florida on Oct. 13. No one was injured and the submarine's nuclear reactor was not affected, according to the Navy.

The collision was caused by human error, poor teamwork by the Montpelier watch team and the commanding officer's failure to follow established procedures for submarines operating at periscope depth, according to the investigation into the incident.

There were other contributing factors "threaded among the various command and control headquarters that provide training and operational oversight within Fleet Forces Command," the investigation said.

The Montpelier and San Jacinto were conducting routine training at the time. The submarine is assigned to Submarine Group Two, headquartered in Groton.

Winter has been reassigned to administrative duties in Norfolk. Cmdr. Stephen Mongold will take over as the submarine's commanding officer.

The Groton-based USS Hartford (SSN 768) collided with a Navy amphibious ship in the Strait of Hormuz in 2009. The Hartford's commanding officer was also relieved of command due to a loss of confidence in his abilities.

j.mcdermott@theday.com

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