Three Navy commanders relieved of duty in the past week
The ousters include the head of the Navy's boot camp and training base.
The leader of the Navy’s Recruit Training Command is out of the job, the latest in a string of firings in June. The Navy announced on Saturday, June 11 that Capt. Jeffry Sandin was relieved of his duty by Rear Adm. Jennifer Couture, head of Naval Service Training Command.
Capt. Kertreck Brooks, the chief of staff for the overarching Naval Service Training Command was named as the new interim head of the Recruit Training Command. The Navy did not get into specifics, but said that the NSTC lost confidence in Sandin.
The Navy’s Recruit Training Command base in Great Lakes, IL, is the basic training center for the service. It originally opened in 1911 and has been the sole recruit training base since 1994. The base just held its latest boot camp graduation ceremony on Friday, June 10, with 417 new sailors graduating into the service. Brooks was the special guest at the ceremony.
The replacement of Sandin is the Navy’s third high-profile removal from a post in the past week. On Friday, Cmdr. Devine Johnson was relieved of command of the destroyer Bulkeley by the commodore of Destroyer Squadron 2. Johnson had taken over the ship in August 2021 after serving as the executive officer. Capt. William Harkin, Destroyer Squadron 2’s deputy commander, took over the Bulkeley in the interim. Command Master Chief Earl Sanders was also relieved alongside Johnson. Loss of confidence in their leadership was cited as the reason. The term can have many meanings, from a literal one to shorthand for major screw ups by those in command. The Navy did not disclose further details on the situation.
And on Wednesday, June 8, the Navy relieved the commander of Electronics Attack Squadron 137, which is part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group. Cmdr. Matthew McCormick had led “The Rooks” since September 2021; the squadron operates EA-18G Growlers. Again the Navy cited a loss of confidence. USNI News reports that it was in part for inappropriate behavior that is still being investigated.
This past week’s firings come as the Navy is dealing with staffing, equipment and morale challenges. Desertions are up, with double the number of sailors deserting in 2021 over 2020. Barracks repairs at Naval Air Station Key West in Florida left sailors having to find their own expensive off-base housing. The USS George Washington saw nearly a dozen deaths in the last year, with at least one being a suicide; three other cases are being investigated as potential suicides.
The Navy is also trying to streamline its operating costs, in part by possibly getting rid of nine Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships it is set to decommission. There have also been serious accidents; of the five aviation crashes in the last two weeks, two involved Navy vehicles and one was fatal.
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