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Navy reassigns head of troubled Littoral Combat Ship program

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The program manager of the Navy’s beleaguered Littoral Combat Ship program has become the first high-ranking Navy officer to be fired in 2012, officials from the Naval Sea Systems Command said Friday.

Capt. Jeffrey Riedel has been “temporarily reassigned” by LCS program executive officer Rear Adm. James Murdoch pending a command investigation into allegations of “inappropriate personal behavior,” according to a Navy news release. No further details were available.

Riedel could not be reached for comment, but an automatic reply to his Navy email account said he had been reassigned to Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren, Va.

Riedel’s dismissal comes on the heels of a near record year in firings in the Navy in 2011. There were 23 commanding officers relieved of their commands, just a few shy of the recent high water mark of 26 in 2003. A majority of those relieved were fired for personal misconduct including sexual misconduct and alcohol-related issues.

Edward Foster will serve as the acting LCS program manager until the investigation is completed, the release said.

The Navy has made a significant investment in the LCS program in the last 10 years, but since its inception it has been hampered by delays, cost overruns, and structural deficiencies.

The smaller, faster, ships are designed to conduct surface warfare operations in addition to combatting underwater mines, submarines, and other unconventional threats. They are to be equipped with interchangeable mission packages and be able to navigate shallower waters than some of the Navy’s larger vessels.

A Pentagon evaluator of military acquisition programs told Congress recently that there were failures in both models of the ships that led to major disruptions and delays in testing and evaluation during the past fiscal year.

The Navy originally planned to build 55 LCS ships, but so far, only four have been put into service.

burkem@pstripes.osd.mil

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