The leadership triads in a ship are held to the highest of standards. As the head honchos in a variety of organizations, sailors look up to them for guidance and leadership. But, while the process of electing a Commanding Officer, an Executive Officer, and a Command Master Chief requires the candidate to show extreme potential… they don’t however, always turn out as good as they look on paper. On such rare occasions, an incident that will happen sooner or later will manage to get the entire triad fired in one fell swoop. But, while it might be a tragedy to their careers, enlisted personnel typically love sharing the reasons behind the removal of their respective triads.
In what could only be explained by blaming the situation on alcohol, an Executive Officer for a Seabee Battalion (Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Four) in Okinawa caused all three members of the leadership triad to be fired at once. Apparently, the XO of the command was found running in the woods naked after having had a wild night of partying earlier this year.
The leadership was relieved of command under the pretense of personal misconduct and behavior unbecoming of a military official. But, the scuttlebutt around my ship was that they had tried sweeping the incident under the rug instead of properly reporting it to the appropriate activities. What was even more perplexing was that he was found drunk after the night of a command activity. Typically most deployed command activities try to limit the sources of alcohol with some outright banning the use of it during the event. Now, the former leadership has been assigned to Port Hueneme where they await further instruction.
Back in 2014, the results of the Command Climate report caused the triad in the USS James E. Williams to be fired for dereliction of duty and failure to demonstrate proper leadership. What is known of the event is that the crew of the USS James E. Williams was on deployment for a tour of eight months with the United States Africa Command and a large portion of its crew had never deployed in the past.
The leadership triad failed to take into account the lack of experience before leaving onto their deployment. Around the same time a sailor committed suicide, and during a visit to the port of Seychelles, there were liberty incidents. Additional problems included a criminal investigation that was still ongoing at the time.
But, due to their lack of proper planning/training and an additional drunken on duty charge for the Command Master Chief, the triad was relieved of their duties. While tragic, it’s a good example of how sailors regardless of rank are also human and capable of making bad judgment calls. However, triads aren’t only fired for demonstrating a lack of judgment, as the 2017 collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and USS McCain can attest to.
Collisions on the 7th Fleet
7th Fleet had a terrible year during 2017. Collisions and catastrophes happened throughout the year and even forced the commands to take a brief pause to assess the situation. But, for the USS Fitzgerald, it meant much more than just a stand down for safety and a slap on the wrist. The collision actually meant the triad of the Fitz was relieved of their command. Seven sailors lost their lives that day, a loss that was felt greatly by everyone in 7th Fleet. But, the removal of the triad was only a band-aid to the problem.
Most triads that are relieved from a command are not fired from the Navy itself. Most of them continue to have 20+ year careers which result in a nice pension and no other repercussions. It’s unfair, but the lower ranked personnel do not have this benefit. If a junior sailor makes a mistake, they’re automatically burned, and if they’ve wronged the right people, they can bet they will lose much more than just their position in the work center.
The punishment system in the Navy is flawed, but that’s a topic for another day…
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.