SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The command master chief of the USS Tortuga, a Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship, has been relieved due to substandard performance, Navy officials said.

Command Master Chief Bryant Rice was reassigned to the staff of Commander, Task Force-76 Monday after CTF-76’s commander, Rear Adm. Jeffrey Harley, lost confidence in his ability to lead, a Navy statement said.

He was replaced by CTF-76 Command Master Chief Donald Davis Jr. until a replacement arrives in April, Harley said.

“We monitor the critical performance of those on our leadership team,” Harley told Stars and Stripes. “This is an issue that has developed over time. Now was the time to take action.”

There wasn’t one particular incident that led to Rice’s removal as the Sasebo-based ship’s senior enlisted adviser and steward of standards and discipline, Harley said. He could not provide specifics, but said Rice’s credibility had been undermined and that sailors deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Rice, a native of Chicago, enlisted in 1992, according to his Navy biography. After a tour on board the USS De Wert, he trained more than 880 recruits as a Recruit Division Commander at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes. He also deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Rice reported to the USS Tortuga in 2011, the statement said. He does not face nonjudicial punishment or punitive action.

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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.

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