Navy fires multiple officers within six days over ‘loss of confidence’

New York Post

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The US Navy has dismissed five commanding officers in less than one week due to “loss of confidence,” a strikingly short timeframe for such disciplinary action.

On Tuesday, the Navy announced it was relieving Cmdr. Peter Lesaca — of the destroyer USS Preble — of his duties “due to loss of confidence in his ability to command.”

“Navy commanding officers are held to high standards of personal and professional conduct,” the Navy said in a statement. “They are expected to uphold the highest standards of responsibility, reliability and leadership, and the Navy holds them accountable when they fall short of these standards.”

The Navy did not provide additional details as to why Lesaca was fired.

Capt. Larry Repass, deputy commodore of the Destroyer Squadron 23, is set to temporarily assume Lesaca’s duties until a permanent replacement arrives.

Lesaca’s firing came only three days after Capt. Jeffry Sandin, commanding officer of the Navy’s Recruit Training Command, was fired “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.”

The Navy again did not provide any details as to why Sandin was relieved of his duties, but said he had “been reassigned to Naval Service Training Command headquarters.” Capt. Kerteck Brooks, chief of staff of the Naval Service Training Command, assumed Sandin’s duties.

One day before, the Navy fired commanding officer Cmdr. Devine Johnson and Command Master Chief Earl Sanders of the destroyer USS Bulkeley “due to a loss of confidence in their ability to effectively function as a command leadership team.”

Both have been temporarily reassigned to the staff of Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic, the Navy said.

They have been replaced for the time being by Capt. William “Mac” Harkin, deputy commodore of Destroyer Squadron Two, and Master Chief Petty Officer Christy Reed.

“There is no impact to the command’s mission or schedule due to this relief,” the Navy said.

The first commanding officer fired in the string of five was Cmdr. Matthew McCormick, head of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137. McCormick was relieved of his duties on June 8 “due to loss of confidence in his ability to command.”

He had been in the position since September 2021 and will be temporarily replaced by Cmdr. Scott Maynes, executive officer of VAQ-137, until a permanent replacement is found.

In the meantime, McCormick “has been temporarily reassigned to Electronic Attack Wing Pacific (VAQWINGPAC) at Naval Station Whidbey Island.”

The Navy did not provide additional details as to why he was fired, but said his relief will have “no impact to the squadron’s mission or schedule.”

When asked for comment on the matter, the Pentagon referred The Post to the Navy, which did not immediately respond to an inquiry.

While it is not uncommon for a military branch to relieve top commanders of their positions due to a “loss of confidence,” departures typically are spread out over a prolonged period.

The Navy did see a similar string of reliefs in February, after it fired three commanding officers — commanding officer Capt. Jeffrey Lengkeek, executive office Cmdr. Michael Jarosz and Command Master Chief Matthew Turner — for the same “loss of confidence.”

At the time, Lt. Cmdr. Paul Newell, a spokesman for Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, told Navy Times that the firings followed “a formal command investigation.”

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