NORFOLK, Va. On August 17th, the US Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, The Sullivans, accidently fired an inert 5-inch round at a civilian fishing boat during a training exercise off the North Carolina coast
The fishing vessel and its crew were not harmed.
At the ensuing Admirals Mast on 7 September, The Sullivans’ captain, Commander Mark Olson, was subsequently relieved of command by Vice Admiral Daniel Holloway, Commander US Second Fleet.
The exact details surrounding this incident have not yet been released, however the Admiral determined Cmdr. Olson had “failed to follow safety procedures during a gunnery exercise held Aug. 17 in the Cherry Point Operating Area range.”
In a chat this evening with an individual familiar with the command climate at the time, Cmdr. Olson was described as an “outstanding leader who supported his crew and had made a very positive impact since taking command.”
USS The Sullivans was scheduled to deploy Sep. 7, but that has been delayed to allow the ship’s crew to complete necessary pre-deployment certifications that were disrupted in part by changes in the ship’s schedule stemming from the gunnery incident, along with some recertifications with the ship’s new commanding officer, Cmdr. Sylvester Steele.
Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time Cmdr. Steele has taken command under these circumstances. Earlier this year, Cmdr. Steele took charge of USS Stout after her captain, Cmdr. Nathan Borchers, was relieved of duty due to “a loss of confidence in his ability to address a pervasive pattern of unprofessional behavior in overseas ports and a substandard command climate on board following an investigation into multiple allegations of crew misconduct.” According to the same US Navy press release, 9 other officers and non-commissioned officers from the Stout, were relieved of duty.