Strategy Page outlines some thoughts on the recent upward swing in the trend of Navy Ship Commanding Officers being relieved.
My parents, who live near Naval Station Jacksonville, Florida, were shocked when the Captain of the USS John F. Kennedy was relieved last fall. Many of their neighbors serve on the ship or at the nearby Naval Station. Big news in a company town.
The U.S. Navy is experiencing an extraordinary number of ship captains getting relieved from command. In the last 14 months, 23 captains have been relieved. That’s 5.4 percent of ship captains a year. At the end of the Cold War, in the late 1980s, the rate was about 3-4 percent a year. So why has the relief rate gone up 50 percent?
Only a small percentage of reliefs have to do with professional failings (a collision or serious accident, failing a major inspection or just continued poor performance.) Most reliefs were, and still are, for adultery, drunkenness or theft. With more women aboard warships, there have been more reliefs for, as sailors like to put it, “zipper failure.” There may have been more than are indicated, as sexual misconduct is often difficult to prove, and a captain who is having zipper control problems often has other shortcomings as well. Senior commanders traditionally act prudently and relieve a ship commander who demonstrates a pattern of minor problems and who they “lack confidence in.”
Read more at Strategy Page.