Navy officer removed from command of USS Chafee

Updated at 12:59 p.m., Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hawaii-based Navy officer removed from command of USS Chafee

By William Cole

Advertiser Military Writer

A Hawaii-based Navy officer who was scheduled to take command of the guided missile destroyer USS Chafee last Friday was instead removed from command and has been assigned to a desk job, officials said.

Capt. Richard L. Clemmons Jr., commander of Destroyer Squadron 31, requested last Friday that the former executive officer of the Chafee, Cmdr. Larry Gonzales, be “detached for cause,” according to a Navy release sent out today.

Gonzales’ removal occurred on the same day he was supposed to take command of the Chafee, which is home ported in Pearl Harbor.

Navy Region Hawaii, the command based at Pearl Harbor, said in the release that “based on findings from a (command) investigation, the chain of command has lost confidence in Gonzales’s ability to lead and command.”

The Navy did not explain the reasons for the removal.

The incumbent commanding officer, Cmdr. Heedong Choi, will retain command of the Chafee until arrival of his relief and change of command, anticipated in early spring.

Gonzales’ relief as executive officer is already aboard the Chafee. Gonzales is being temporarily reassigned to a shore command pending further administrative actions, the Navy said.

According to the Naval Inspector General’s office, “detachment for cause” is the administrative removal of an officer from his or her current duty assignment before the planned rotation date.

The need for such an action arises “when an officer’s performance or conduct detracts from accomplishing the command mission and the officer’s continuance in the billet can only negatively impact the command,” according to the Inspector General’s office.

A detachment for cause is one of the strongest administrative measures used in the case of officers. An approved detachment is filed in the officer’s official record and has a serious effect on the officer’s future naval career, particularly with regard to promotion, duty assignment, selection for schools, and special assignment.

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