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NAPLES, Italy — The commanding officer of the U.S. Navy base in Bahrain has been relieved of his command two weeks shy of his scheduled departure date, Navy officials said.

Rear Adm. David Mercer, commander of Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia, on Monday fired Capt. John Schoeneck "due to a loss of confidence in Schoeneck’s ability to command," according to Navy spokesman Lt. Brian Badura.

Badura declined to say what led to the admiral’s loss of confidence in Schoeneck.

Schoeneck declined to comment Wednesday on Mercer’s decision, according to base public affairs officials.

A formal change-of-command ceremony in which Schoeneck was scheduled to turn over duties had been set for Dec. 6.

"Adm. Mercer made the decision after a review of the facts that it was best overall for [Naval Support Activity] Bahrain, the region, and the Navy to relieve him now and not wait until that formal change-of-command," Badura said. "He felt the facts he had at hand limited his ability to wait and prolong anything. He felt action had to be taken now."

A Navy official said there is no criminal conduct or any criminal investigation surrounding the termination.

Schoeneck’s termination, Badura said, is not related to the Navy’s recent probe of a hazing scandal inside a Bahrain-based canine unit. The investigation, which was reopened in September, looked into cases of violent attacks, sex crimes and other illegal activities between 2004 and 2006. Schoeneck, 46, assumed command at Bahrain on Oct. 21, 2008.

Mercer temporarily reassigned Schoeneck to the Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain pending further personnel actions, according to a Navy news release.

Capt. Enrique Sadsad is to assume command of NSA Bahrain on Dec. 6. Sadsad’s previous assignment was commanding officer of Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton, Fla.

Until Sadsad arrives, Capt. Fred Capria, deputy commander of Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia, will serve as the base’s commanding officer, Badura said.


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