Navy patrol squadron commander relieved of duty amid investigation

Cmdr. Ryan Cech, commanding officer of the Golden Swordsmen of Patrol Squadron 47, speaks in Okinawa, Japan on Oct. 26, 2016.


By WILLIAM COLE | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser | Published: March 10, 2017

HONOLULU (Tribune News Service) — The Navy’s Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Ten in Washington state on Wednesday relieved of duty the commanding officer of a P-3 Orion squadron that was based in Hawaii, but which left on a deployment Sept. 20 and started returning to its new home at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington on Feb. 28.

Cmdr. Ryan Cech, who was in charge of Patrol Squadron 47, or VP-47, was removed after “allegations of misconduct,” the Naval Air Forces said in a release.

“The decision to relieve Cech was based on actions that demonstrated poor judgment and lack of professionalism, calling into question Cech’s leadership which undermined his credibility to continue to serve effectively in command,” the Navy said.

The Navy said Capt. Kevin Long has temporarily assumed command of the squadron, while Cech has been temporarily reassigned to the Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Two staff. Long is listed as deputy commodore of Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Ten.

“Commanding officers have a great deal of responsibility for their units, their sailors and their mission,” Naval Air Forces said. “Standards of performance for commanding officers are extremely high.”

The move to Whidbey has caused some confusion over indicating where VP-47 is currently based.

Naval Air Forces said the “Golden Swordsmen” of VP-47 are based at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay.

VP-47’s own website says it is based out of Whidbey Island and is attached to Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Ten.

The unit and its sub-hunting and surveillance P-3 Orion turboprops deployed to Okinawa, Japan, and Comalapa, El Salvador.

Cech said in a Navy-produced news story in September when the unit left Hawaii that, “After a challenging 2016 home-cycle of training, exercises, and operational tasking on the heels of a seven-month deployment to Sigonella, Sicily, in 2015, the squadron has been singularly focused on preparing for this deployment. It is a privilege to lead such highly trained, extremely capable, and well-equipped warfighters to the front-lines of two very different and dynamic (areas).”

All three regular P-3 Orion patrol squadrons formerly at Kaneohe Bay — VP-9, VP-4 and VP-47 — have permanently left Hawaii and all three are moving to Whidbey Island after a deployment.

The final three planes — with Patrol Squadron 9, or VP-9 — left Hawaii last week with about 60 crew and maintainers. Before leaving on deployment, the “Golden Eagles” of VP-9 had eight of the turboprops with the distinctive stinger tail (a magnetic anomaly detector) and about 360 personnel, the Navy said.

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