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Amphib Ponce CO, XO fired in the Mediterranean

Apr. 23, 2011 - 06:30PM   |   Last Updated: Apr. 23, 2011 - 06:30PM  |  
Cmdr. Etta Jones and Lt. Cmdr. Kurt Boenisch, the commanding officer and executive officer, respectively, of amphibious transport dock Ponce, were relieved of duty April 23.
Cmdr. Etta Jones and Lt. Cmdr. Kurt Boenisch, the commanding officer and executive officer, respectively, of amphibious transport dock Ponce, were relieved of duty April 23. ()
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The commanding officer and executive officer of a Norfolk, Va.-based amphibious ship were fired Saturday while the ship was on deployment in the Mediterranean, according to an announcement posted on the Navy's website.

Cmdr. Etta Jones, CO of the amphibious transport dock Ponce, was fired "due to demonstrated poor leadership, and failure to appropriately investigate, report, and hold accountable sailors found involved in hazing incidents," the announcement said. Jones also "failed to properly handle a loaded weapon" during a security alert, which the announcement said "endangered some of her crew."

Vice Adm. Harry Harris, commander of 6th Fleet, also fired the XO, Lt. Cmdr. Kurt Boenisch, for failing "to provide support to the command and commanding officer."

"When leadership fails in setting a proper example or upholding proper standards on his or her ship, they fail to serve our sailors, our Navy and, ultimately, our nation," Harris said in the announcement.

Jones is the eighth commanding officer relieved so far this year. She was replaced by Capt. Brad Skillman, deputy commander of Amphibious Squadron 4.

According to their official biographies, both Jones and Boenisch came up from the enlisted ranks.

Jones enlisted in 1985 as an electronics technician and received her commission through Officer Candidate School in 1992 after earning a master's degree from New Hampshire College.

Boenisch enlisted in 1986 as a submarine machinist's mate. He was accepted into the Enlisted Commissioning Program and in 1996 graduated from the University of North Florida.

The firings come less than two months after the CO and command master chief of the destroyer Stout, another Norfolk-based ship, were fired in the Mediterranean. One officer, six chiefs and one petty officer were also kicked off the ship after an investigation revealed multiple incidents of crew misconduct during port visits during the deployment.

Both Ponce and Stout participated in Operation Odyssey Dawn, in which U.S. and British ships and subs struck targets in Libya.

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