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More Navy leaders relieved of duty after rowdy port visit

U.S. Navy, Cmdr. Joseph Darlak is the latest Navy leader to be relieved of duty after an investigation into drinking and inappropriate behavior during a port visit. Here he's shown Sept. 20 taking a bite of a traditional offering of bread and salt after arriving in Vladivostok, Russia.(Ryan P. Mutha/U.S. Navy photo)

Drunken behavior during a port visit has led to the dismissal of another Navy commander and three other top officers, days after the leader of the USS Stennis carrier group was sent back to Bremerton.

The Navy hasn’t said much about why they’ve removed Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette from his command October 27. They are conducting an internal investigation involving his judgment.

The Navy is offering more explanation about the commander of the USS Vandegrift, which is a frigate based in San Diego that was built at the Todd Shipyards. This frigate was not with the Stennis carrier group.

Vandegrift Commander Joseph Darlak was relieved of duty one week ago due to “a loss of confidence after displaying poor leadership and failure to ensure the conduct of his officers” while visiting the Russian port of Vladivostok in September.

Translation, according to San Diego media reports – Darlak was part of a “rowdy, booze-fueled port visit.”

The ship’s executive officer, Commander Ivan Jimenez, was also removed from the ship along with the operations officer and chief engineer, “for personal conduct and use of alcohol.”

A Navy release stated, “Inappropriate behavior and judgment in positions of authority are unacceptable.”

That phrase “inappropriate judgment” was used to describe the Stennis Rear Admiral also.

A military analyst I talked with a week ago said the Navy is on track to fire a record number of commanders this year for bad behavior.

“The Navy this year has had a spike in firings of these kinds of officers. They’ve fired over a dozen so far with problems related to offenses about sexual misconduct, alcohol, or some other kind of personal misconduct,” says Lyons.

Now 14 commanders have been relieved of duty, which essentially ends their careers.


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