The U.S. Navy finally hints at why Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette was relieved of command of an aircraft carrier strike group in the Middle East and sent back to Bremerton.
Five months have passed since Gaouette was removed from duty and sent to the USS John C. Stennis homeport in Bremerton due to an inappropriate judgment allegation.
Now, we know.
The Navy confirms Gaouette, who led Carrier Strike Group Three, had been accused of using profanity in a public setting, making derisive comments about a leader in the Navy, and saying at least two racially insensitive comments.
Sources in the Stennis strike group tell me the Gaoeutte’s behavior did not seem out of line to them. One person tells me the complaint was filed, claiming Gaoeutte was abusive, after he had corrected the commander for not following procedures.
Navy officials declined to provide details on what exactly he said.
He was cleared of criminal violations under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but a letter and a report from the Naval Inspector General will be placed in Gaouette’s file.
Gaouette released a statement acknowledging mistakes.
In a statement about the case Gaouette said, “I fully accept responsibility and accountability for my actions while in command and deeply regret that my missteps have placed the Navy in this position.”
CBS military analyst, retired Army Major Mike Lyons says of all branches, the Navy has been the most aggressive in clamping down on unprofessional conduct.
“With the Navy, they live in such close quarters that any time personal conduct bleeds over into professional life, the reaction is to remove the officer while they investigate the allegations,” Lyons told me earlier.
The Navy Times newspaper reported that in 2011, 23 Navy officers were fired. Last year more than 20 Navy commanding officers were fired for “inappropriate behavior and misconduct.” So far in 2013 year, six Navy officers have been relieved of duty.
The Stennis and its strike group arrived in Singapore last week for a short port visit.
The aircraft carrier is returning from five months of operating in and around the Arabian Gulf, supporting coalition troops in the Afghanistan war.
The Stennis departed Bremerton August 27, 2012 and is expected to return in early May.
By LINDA THOMAS