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The commander of the EA-6B Prowler squadron aboard the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower in the Persian Gulf was relieved of his command Monday amid an investigation, Navy officials said.

Capt. Scott Stearney, commander of Carrier Air Wing 7, relieved Cmdr. Christopher Rankin, commander of Electronic Attack Squadron 140, “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command,” said Lt. Denise Garcia, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain.

While Garcia declined to provide details of the ongoing investigation surrounding Rankin, she said it was not the result of a mishap or accident involving the squadron’s radar-jamming aircraft.

The investigation began Thursday, Garcia said. Rankin assumed command on April 7, only five days before.

He was the squadron’s executive officer for the previous 15 months, Garcia said.

Cmdr. Timothy Murphy, the squadron’s executive officer, has stepped in as acting commander, Garcia said.

Typically, executive officers assume the leadership role when commanders leave during normal rotational cycles, but Navy leaders have yet to decide whether Murphy will remain as the squadron’s commander, she said.

Rankin temporarily is assigned to Carrier Strike Group 8, based in Norfolk, Va., while officials investigate the matter.

The squadron is based out of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., and currently attached to the Eisenhower, which has been in the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf regions since Oct. 30.

The EA-6B Prowler is the Navy and Marine Corps’ principal electronic warfare aircraft and is used to protect ships by jamming enemy radar and communications.


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