2012: Year in review
25 Navy commanders dismissed
By CRISTINA SILVA | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 27, 2012
It was a brutal year for U.S. Navy commanding officers, who saw 25 of their own get pink slips in 2012.
Many of the commanders were fired for personal misconduct, with the Navy providing few details about what exactly caused their downfall.
The number of dismissals is a slight uptick from 2011, when 23 commanding officers were fired.
Navy officials have said they are working to weed out bad commanders. Starting in 2013, all commanders will be subject to informal evaluations from peers and subordinates.
“Loss of confidence” was the most commonly stated reason cited for the removals.
The explanations offered for other dismissals were more specific.
Cmdr. Franklin Fernandez, commanding officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 24, was fired Aug. 21 after allegedly driving under the influence. A month later, Capt. Antonio Cardoso, commanding officer of Training Support Center San Diego, was dismissed on Sept. 21 for violating the Navy’s policy on hazing. Capt. Michael Wiegand, commanding officer of Southwest Regional Maintenance Center in San Diego, was relieved Nov. 8 amid allegations that funds were misused under his watch.
Crashes and fatalities were also cause for dismissals.
Capt. Chuck Litchfield was relieved from command of the USS Essex after it collided with the replenishment oiler Yukon off the Southern California coast on May 16. On Aug. 30, Cmdr. Martin Arriola, commanding officer of the USS Porter, was fired after the missile destroyer collided with a tanker in the Persian Gulf. More recently, Cmdr. Sara Santoski, commanding officer of the Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15, was dismissed on Sept. 1 after two sailors died in a crash.
Some of the dismissals came swiftly; other commanders were given time to explain themselves.
Capt. Ted Williams was relieved as commander of the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney in November, roughly a month after the Navy launched an investigation into his personal conduct. Cmdr. Ray Hartman was relieved as commander of the amphibious dock-landing ship USS Fort McHenry only two days after allegations of misconduct were officially reported Nov. 17.
There were many more unexplained dismissals. At least eight commanders were let go for inappropriate conduct. Navy spokeswoman Lt. Lauryn K. Dempsey said the Navy could not provide further details on those dismissals.