NORFOLK, Va. — With the recent firing of Navy Capt. Rachel Haltner, commanding officer of the USNS Comfort, shortly before a deployment to South America, the Navy has officially fired more captains than torpedoes over the last five years, Naval History and Heritage Command has announced.
"From March 30, 2010 to March 31, 2015, the Navy has fired 368 commanding officers on active service, including Haltner," according to NHHC director Capt. Henry Hendrix. "During the same time period, the Navy has fired 347 torpedoes of all types, and none in anger. Which is ironic, considering how many captains were fired in anger."
"The commanding officers' violations ranged from the (alleged) establishment of a ship-wide Thai lady-boy prostitution ring, to broadcasting a safety message that may have offended at least one sailor based on rank, job, race, gender, mixed-genders, religion, or sexual identity," Hendrix added.
In a ceremony at the Navy Memorial next week, a special award will be presented to the Chief of Naval Operations to memorialize the dubious distinction.
While the reasons for Haltner’s removal from command remain undisclosed pending an investigative hearing, there is no shortage of possible infractions, sources say.
“She could have used swear words in a public setting, or squinted when the sun was in her eyes and offended a nearby Asian-American sailor,” said a Navy JAG officer, who spoke with Duffel Blog on condition of anonymity. “The Navy really takes a hard stance on these out of control commanders. Maybe she passed gas on the bridge- who knows?”
During the weekly Pentagon press briefing, a naval spokesman was asked about rumors that the service would have to start recruiting Merchant Marine officers to fill vacancies. Before he could finish his response the brief was abruptly cancelled by a Navy Public Affairs Officer when the spokesman inadvertently used the derogatory term “manpower.” The PAO was then relieved for identifying himself as a "spokesman" rather than "spokesperson."
At the time of this publication both officers are facing administrative separation.