Two commanding officers out of the Navy’s 6th Fleet based in Italy were stripped of their commands on Monday, the Navy announced, citing investigations into “allegations of misconduct.” Twenty-four Naval officers this year have been fired from their commands.
Cmdr. Ray Hartman, commanding officer of the USS Fort McHenry, an amphibious dock-landing ship (think of a small aircraft carrier), was relieved on Monday. The Navy also relieved Capt. Ted Williams (pictured above), top officer of the USS Mount Whitney, an amphibious command ship. Williams previously was a temporary replacement No. 2 officer of the USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier after that ship's executive officer, Capt. Robert Gamberg, was found guilty of an "improper relationship."
In both cases, Vice Adm. Frank Pandolfe, the commander of U.S. 6th Fleet, ordered an “accelerated change of command.” In Hartman’s case, the change comes just three weeks before Hartman was supposed to give up command of the ship on schedule. On the ship's Facebook page, however, a posting claims "due to personal reasons, Cmdr. Hartman requested through the chain of command that the date of the change of command be accelerated."
A Navy official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigations remain active, said both officers were fired over offense of “personal misconduct… not anything to do with to the operation of the ship or the mission of the ship.” The official would not elaborate.
The firings come only days after the Navy’s top officer, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, said he was concerned about the rate of firings this year. “I don’t understand why they’re misbehaving, and I’m concerned about that, and I’m looking into that, looking into that very hard,” he said, at a National Press Club appearance. Greenert said he would look into ethics violations and find “weaknesses as we look across our four-star ranks.”
Less than three weeks ago, another ship commander and three officers were fired for drunken behavior during a port call in Russia. For that incident, Cmdr. Joseph Darlak was relieved of command of the USS Vandegrift, a frigate.
US Navy photo