Bad behavior claims two additional Navy commanders

While the world focuses on the alleged and admitted dalliances of 4-star generals, two senior Navy commanders were added to the ever-growing list of high-ranking seafaring officers relieved of duty for personal misbehavior. Two commanding officers out of the Navy’s 6th Fleet based in Italy were stripped of their commands on Monday, the Navy announced, ...

US Navy photo
US Navy photo
US Navy photo

While the world focuses on the alleged and admitted dalliances of 4-star generals, two senior Navy commanders were added to the ever-growing list of high-ranking seafaring officers relieved of duty for personal misbehavior.

Two commanding officers out of the Navy’s 6th Fleet based in Italy were stripped of their commands on Monday, the Navy announced, citing investigations into “allegations of misconduct.” Twenty-four Naval officers this year have been fired from their commands.

Cmdr. Ray Hartman, commanding officer of the USS Fort McHenry, an amphibious dock-landing ship (think of a small aircraft carrier), was relieved on Monday. The Navy also relieved Capt. Ted Williams (pictured above), top officer of the USS Mount Whitney, an amphibious command ship. Williams previously was a temporary replacement No. 2 officer of the USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier after that ship's executive officer, Capt. Robert Gamberg, was found guilty of an "improper relationship."

While the world focuses on the alleged and admitted dalliances of 4-star generals, two senior Navy commanders were added to the ever-growing list of high-ranking seafaring officers relieved of duty for personal misbehavior.

Two commanding officers out of the Navy’s 6th Fleet based in Italy were stripped of their commands on Monday, the Navy announced, citing investigations into “allegations of misconduct.” Twenty-four Naval officers this year have been fired from their commands.

Cmdr. Ray Hartman, commanding officer of the USS Fort McHenry, an amphibious dock-landing ship (think of a small aircraft carrier), was relieved on Monday. The Navy also relieved Capt. Ted Williams (pictured above), top officer of the USS Mount Whitney, an amphibious command ship. Williams previously was a temporary replacement No. 2 officer of the USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier after that ship’s executive officer, Capt. Robert Gamberg, was found guilty of an "improper relationship."

In both cases, Vice Adm. Frank Pandolfe, the commander of U.S. 6th Fleet, ordered an “accelerated change of command.” In Hartman’s case, the change comes just three weeks before Hartman was supposed to give up command of the ship on schedule. On the ship’s Facebook page, however, a posting claims "due to personal reasons, Cmdr. Hartman requested through the chain of command that the date of the change of command be accelerated."

A Navy official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigations remain active, said both officers were fired over offense of “personal misconduct… not anything to do with to the operation of the ship or the mission of the ship.” The official would not elaborate.

The firings come only days after the Navy’s top officer, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, said he was concerned about the rate of firings this year. “I don’t understand why they’re misbehaving, and I’m concerned about that, and I’m looking into that, looking into that very hard,” he said, at a National Press Club appearance. Greenert said he would look into ethics violations and find “weaknesses as we look across our four-star ranks.”

Less than three weeks ago, another ship commander and three officers were fired for drunken behavior during a port call in Russia. For that incident, Cmdr. Joseph Darlak was relieved of command of the USS Vandegrift, a frigate.

Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge. Twitter: @FPBaron

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