A Navy Captain with 37 years in Naval aviation was fired as the commanding officer of a major maintenance center for “loss of confidence in his ability to command,” the Navy said in a release Thursday.
Capt. Paul Choate was relieved of command of the Naval Readiness Center-Mid Atlantic at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia by Rear Adm. Joseph Hornbuckle on Aug. 31, the Navy said. Hornbuckle oversees the Navy’s nine Fleet Readiness Centers, which are responsible for depot-level maintenance on the Navy’s aircraft and aviation equipment around the world.
As is typical for Navy relief announcements, no explanation for Choate’s removal was released beyond the issue of “confidence,” a cause the service cites nearly every time a commander is fired.
A native of Saigon, Vietnam, Choate is a “mustang,” a common term of affection in the Navy for officers who begin their careers as enlisted sailors and work their way up to be commissioned officers and commanders. Choate enlisted in September 1986 and was commissioned ten years later, according to his official biography which was still on the FRMCA webpage Thursday morning.
Choate oversaw close to 2,500 military and civilian workers at the Virginia Beach depot. The facility performs depot-level maintenance on aircraft from across the Navy’s fleet, including the F/A-18, E-2, C-2, H-60, H-53, C-130, UH-1, AH-1, V-22, P-3, and F-35. The center also maintains aviation-related equipment used on aircraft carriers.
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Capt. Richard Foster, the center’s executive officer who was scheduled to assume command of the center in December, will now take over immediately.
Along with a Navy career in aviation maintenance, Choate deployed to Iraq with an improvised explosive device, or IED, team, his biography said, though it does not cite what year. Choate won 3rd place in the 2020 Armed Forces chess championship and a gold medal in 2002 at the NATO chess championship.
His personal awards include a Bronze Star and an array of decorations typical for senior officers.
Choate’s replacement, Foster, has been the executive officer at the center since July 2022 and is a former Navy test pilot with over 3,100 flight hours in 28 aircraft.
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