I am sad to announce that we beat our record. Last year, 17 Commanding Officers lost their command. And yesterday, Commander Mark Olson, Skipper of USS The Sullivans (DDG-68), was fired by the 2nd Fleet commander, Vice Admiral Daniel Holloway. Our 18th sacking this year.
The Sullivans is a Mayport, Florida based-destroyer. (On a side note, if you have not read the story behind its multi-named moniker, it is quite interesting naval lore.) The cause of the firing? From the Navy Times article (the news source jokingly referred to inside the Navy as Navy Crimes):
Olson was in command on Aug. 17 when the ship was conducting a gunnery exercise at the Cherry Point Operating Range Area, off the North Carolina coast. During the exercise, The Sullivans mistook a fishing vessel for a towed gunnery target and began firing inert rounds at the vessel. They landed close but did not strike the boat. None of the fishermen was harmed, 2nd Fleet said.
This is not the first time the ship has had issues. Read the rest of the article for details and peruse the comments for tidbits from the crew and other salty (or apparently salty) folks.
As for my experience with Skippers who got relieved, I have one. Without naming names, I was cordial with one such female Commanding Officer. This was not recent, for those trying to place it. I saw her a fair amount at Officer or Navy functions. I had this conversation after she got relieved (with her rank obscured):
Me: I can’t believe LCDR/CDR/CAPT so-and-so got relieved.
Fellow JO: Yup, she is gone.
Me: She always seemed so cordial when I chatted with her.
Fellow JO: She was.
Me: What did she get relieved for?
Fellow JO: Frat. She got too close.
Me: There is cordial and then there is cordial.
Fellow JO: She was cordial.
I won’t armchair quarterback the Sullivans’ firing. Life at sea is a tense affair, especially during exercises. As for frat, there is no excuse. COs exist not to befriend Sailors, but to lead them. To be friendly (when appropriate) but not to be friends. . .