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Navy fires 2 warship commanders, 3 other leaders in a week

The guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Johans Chavarro/Released)
June 15, 2022

The U.S. Navy has relieved two warships’ commanders, as well as the top enlisted members of one warship, an electronic attack squadron and Navy recruit training from their commands in the span of just one week.

The Navy revealed in a press release on Tuesday that Destroyer Squadron (COMDESRON) 23 commodore Capt. Patrick H. O’Mahoney relieved Cmdr. Peter Lesaca of his command of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG-88). Lesaca was relieved for an unspecified loss of confidence in his command. COMDESRON 23 deputy commodore Capt. Larry Repass will temporarily take over for Lesaca.

On June 11, Destroyer Squadron Two (CDS-2) commodore Capt. Stefan Walch relieved Cmdr. Devine Johnson of his command of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bulkeley (DDG-84) Cmdr. Devine Johnson. Walch also relieved USS Bulkeley Command Master Chief Earl Sanders. The Navy press release stated Johnson and Sanders were relieved over a “loss of confidence in their ability to effectively function as a command leadership team.”

Johnson and Sanders have both been reassigned to the staff of the commander of Naval Surface Force Atlantic. Capt. William “Mac” Harkin, who currently serves as deputy commodore of CSD-2, has temporarily taken over Johnson’s role. Master Chief Petty Officer Christy Reed, also of CDS-2, has temporarily taken over for Sanders.

Also on June 11, Rear Adm. Jennifer Couture, the commander of Naval Service Training Command, relieved Capt. Jeffry Sandin. Sandin had commanded the Navy’s Recruit Training Command, which serves as the Navy’s only enlisted basic training location.

According to a press release, Sandin was also relieved due to an unspecified loss of confidence in his command. Capt. Kertreck Brooks, who is the chief of staff Naval Service Training Command, has taken over Sandin’s responsibilities while Sandin has been reassigned to Naval Service Training Command headquarters.

Cmdr. Matthew McCormick, the commanding officer of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137, was the first to be relieved of command in the span of a week. In a June 8 press release, the Navy said Carrier Air Wing 1’s commanding officer Capt. Patrick Hourigan relieved McCormick over a loss of confidence in the squadron commander. The exact reason for the decision to relieve McCormick was not immediately clear.

VAQ 137, “The Rooks,” is currently deployed as part of the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group. Squadron executive officer Cmdr. Scott Maynes, is currently serving as the acting commanding officer of the squadron, based out of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington. McCormick has been temporarily reassigned to the Electronic Attack Wing Pacific (VAQWINGPAC) at Whidbey Island.