Navy’s Top Enlisted Sailor To ‘Step Aside’ Amid Investigation Into Toxic Leadership Allegations

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U.S. Navy photo / Mass Communication 1st Class Jamica Johnson.

And he’s outta here: The Navy’s senior enlisted leader is retiring amid an investigation into allegations that he is an abusive boss and a bad leader.


“I seek to avoid any distraction from the success of our sailors and our mission,” Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano wrote in a message posted on the Navy’s Facebook page. “I have informed the chief of naval operations that I intend to step aside and submit my retirement request, in order to allow the CNO, our CPO [chief petty officer] mess, and our sailors to continue to move forward with the initiatives we have begun.”

Task & Purpose was unable to determine by deadline whether Giordano’s departure was entirely voluntary. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said on Thursday that he had accepted Giordano’s offer to retire immediately, adding that he appreciated that Giordano understood “the situation had become untenable.”

“Now we need to move forward – together – as a Navy striving with all our energy to become a more lethal fighting force,” Richardson said in a message posted on his Facebook page. “We'll continue to demonstrate expertise and character. We'll continue to strengthen the bonds of trust and confidence within our Navy and with the American people. We'll continue to act with integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness. America expects no less. In doing so, we'll be able to overpower any enemy that would take us on. Let's get to it.”

Two days ago, Navy spokesman Cmdr. William Speaks confirmed that Giordano had taken leave but he had no information about how long the MCPON would be away from his duties.

Navy Times first reported on June 15 that Giordano was being investigated by the Navy’s inspector general office after a sailor filed a complaint that he fosters a hostile work environment. More than a dozen sailors who have worked for Giordano told the newspaper that the MCPON is obsessed with perks and has pushed his staff to ask the Navy to give him his own set of fine China.

One sailor who had been a member of Giordano’s staff told Navy Times that the MPCON believes he should have a chief petty officer assigned to carry his cover and personal and take notes for him. “It was like working for a pop star or Hollywood diva,” the sailor told the newspaper on condition of anonymity.

"Per his letter, Master Chief Giordano requested to step aside from his current duties," Capt. Darryn James, spokesperson for the Chief of Naval Operations, said in a statement. "He provided his reasoning to voluntarily resign as the MCPON and the CNO accepted his offer. The investigation will continue but is not yet complete. The Navy is awaiting receipt of Master Chief Giordano’s formal retirement request. He is currently on personal leave and administratively assigned to the office of the Chief of Naval Personnel. The Navy will begin the selection process for the new Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy."

Giordano became MCPON on Sept. 2, 2016. He did not mention any of the specific allegations against him in his farewell letter.

“To our sailors, keep leading yourself, your families and our Navy as authentic, competent and courageous people,” he wrote in the message. “Elka and I leave secure in knowing that you have the watch. We are honored to have served alongside each of you. Our Navy is in the best of hands. God bless you, your families, and our entire Navy.”

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UPDATE: This story was updated on June 21 with a statement from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson.

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