Is There Something Wrong With Our Skippers, Or With Our Crews?

In a little over a month, the Navy has replaced four ship captains. The captains of the cruiser USS Anzio, destroyer USS Barry, attack submarine USS Springfield and patrol ship USS Shamal have all been relieved of command.

Captain Brian Sorenson

The captain of USS Anzio (CG-68) was relieved due to personal misconduct. Capt. Brian Sorenson was flown off the cruiser while it was taking part in training exercises at sea as part of the USS Harry Truman battle group. The captain was replaced by Capt. Frank Castellano, commanding officer of the cruiser Vella Gulf. Anzio is working up for deployment and Capt. Castellano will retain command. A new commander for Vella Gulf, currently in the yard, will have to be found.

Cmdr. Patrick Foster

The commanding officer of USS Barry (DDG-52) Cmdr. Patrick Foster was relieved of command on August 21. According to the Navy, Cmdr. Foster was canned by Captain Brian Fort, commander of Destroyer Squadron 26, “due to loss of confidence in his ability to command following an on-going investigation into a series of decisions over time reflecting poor judgment, failure to meet and uphold the highest personal and professional standards, and poor program management.”

Cmdr. Daniel Lombardo

Cmdr. Daniel Lombardo, captain of the USS Springfield, a Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine was relieved of his command “due to loss of confidence in his ability to command.”

Lt. Cmdr. Alisha Hamilton

Lt. Cmdr. Alisha Hamilton

Loss of confidence was also the reason for the replacement of Lt. Cmdr. Alisha Hamilton as commander of USS Shamal (PC-13) in Mayport, Fla.  USS Shamal is one of three Cyclone-class patrol combatants based at Naval Station Mayport. With all of the investigations ongoing, little information about the reasons behind the firing of these captains has been revealed, yet. Loss of confidence by their commanders can cover a variety of naval sins.

Why it Matters

Whatever the reasons, the simple fact that there are four current captains getting booted out of their commands should give everyone pause. It is relatively rare for a ship captain to be relieved without a good reason and four in the last month is unheard of.  There are only two reasons that ship captains get fired. The first is if they screw up and hit something with their ship. The fastest way to lose a command is to run aground.

The second way, and with the number of ship captains being relieved on the upswing it appears to be the primary reason, is because of the newer dynamic of ships with both female and male crews. Fraternization on ship is not allowed, but it’s hard to enforce. Since the captain is responsible – not only for his behavior but the behavior of everyone on his ship – they are held accountable for the problem.

“To those of us who have examined this problem from the inside, this seems a forlorn hope. Simply put, you cannot put young, healthy men and women into a small box, send them away for extended periods of isolation, and not expect them to interact dynamically with one another. They’re like magnets being put into a box and shaken — they stick,” wrote retired Capt. Kevin Eyer in USNI.

Integrating women into combatant ships is well underway and turning it around is not an option. For the foreseeable future, captains are going to get fired – whether they did anything or not.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Matt Towns

Matt is a former military journalist who spent 10 years in the US Navy. He served in various posts during his career, including a couple of deployments on the USS Valley Forge (CG-50). After leaving the Navy, he worked in management for a number of years before opening his own businesses. He ran those businesses until 2012 when he chose to leave the retail industry and return to writing. Matt currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to the US Patriot blog and other websites about political affairs, military activities and sailing.

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