Navy relieves ballistic missile submarine commander for ‘loss of confidence’
Stars and Stripes September 26, 2023
The Navy fired the USS Alabama’s skipper on Friday, a little over a year after he took command of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine.
Cmdr. Michael Lyle, who led the Alabama’s blue crew, was relieved by the head of Submarine Group 9, Rear Adm. Nicholas Tilbrook, due to “a loss of confidence in his ability to command,” U.S. Pacific Fleet announced in a Monday news release.
“Navy commanding officers are held to high standards of personal and professional conduct,” the release said. “They are expected to uphold the highest standards of responsibility, reliability and leadership, and the Navy holds them accountable when they fall short of those standards.”
The U.S. military routinely uses “loss of confidence” as a catch-all term when publicly announcing a commander’s removal, but the precise circumstances are rarely disclosed upfront due in part to federal privacy laws.
Lyle is at least the seventh Navy commander relieved this year for “loss of confidence.”
Spokespeople for Submarine Group 9 and U.S. Pacific Fleet did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment Monday evening.
Assuming interim command of the Washington-based submarine’s blue crew is Cmdr. Larry Arbuckle, deputy commodore of Submarine Squadron 17.
Ballistic missile submarines have two full crew complements each – blue and gold – who alternate manning the vessel. This maximizes the submarines’ “strategic availability, reduces the number of submarines required to meet strategic requirements, and allows for proper crew training, readiness, and morale,” according to the Submarine Force Pacific website.
The Navy removed Lyle’s online biography after the announcement. He took command of the nuclear-powered and nuclear-weapons capable Alabama on Aug. 19, 2022.
Lyle graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2002 with a degree in history and later earned a master’s degree in business administration from the Simon Business School in 2004. He was commissioned from the Navy’s Officer Candidate School in 2004.
Originally from Fairport, N.Y., Lyle has served aboard the attack submarines USS Houston and USS Buffalo and as the executive officer on the ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana in 2017.