A man who climbed the Navy’s ranks over a long career has been unceremoniously removed as commander of the USS Stennis Carrier Strike Group and sent back to the homeport in Bremerton.
A U.S. Navy spokesperson is not giving an explanation for the change, other than to say that questions had arisen about Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette’s “leadership judgment.”
He will remain in Bremerton, awaiting the outcome of the internal investigation.
NavyTimes.com reports that, “Vice Admiral John Miller, commander Naval Forces Central Command, made the decision to reassign the commander of Carrier Strike Group 3, even though it’s deployed to the Middle East.”
NBC News interviewed Neal Zerbe, a retired Navy Captain, who says, “The particular commander being relieved, and you know translating that to just moving him back to a continental U.S. base while the investigation continues, is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.”
The Stennis group deployed from Bremerton in late August and had entered the Navy 5th Fleet’s area of operations in the Middle East on October 17.
It deployed four months earlier than scheduled. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited the Stennis and its sailors in Bremerton shortly before they departed. He thanked them for accelerating their deployment on short notice.
By LINDA THOMAS