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Destroyer CO sacked after ship fired on boat

Sep. 7, 2011 - 07:26PM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 7, 2011 - 07:26PM  |  
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Cmdr. Mark Olson has been fired as commanding officer of the destroyer The Sullivans. (Navy)

The commanding officer of the destroyer The Sullivans was fired Wednesday, three weeks after his ship mistakenly fired at a fishing boat during a gunnery exercise, the Navy said.

Cmdr. Mark Olson was relieved of command of the Mayport, Fla.-based destroyer by Vice Adm. Daniel Holloway, 2nd Fleet commander, due to "a loss of confidence in his ability to command," 2nd Fleet said in a release.

He is the 18th commanding officer fired this year, surpassing last year's total.

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.

The incident delayed the ship's deployment, the Navy said.

At admiral's mast, Holloway determined that the accident stemmed from Olson's failure to follow established procedures.

Olson, a 1992 Naval Academy graduate, previously commanded coastal patrol ships Sirocco and Firebolt and served as executive officer aboard cruiser Lake Erie, according to his official bio. Messages seeking comment from Olson were not immediately returned.

This is not the first incident to sideline The Sullivans. In March 2010, the ship struck a buoy while entering the port of Manama, Bahrain. The commanding officer, Cmdr. Neil Funtanilla, was fired two months later.

The Sullivans was scheduled to deploy Wednesday but was delayed since the ship will now have to complete predeployment certifications, including some exercises, under a new CO.

Cmdr. Sylvester Steele will assume command of The Sullivans on Thursday, 2nd Fleet said. Olson has been reassigned to administrative duties with Destroyer Squadron 14.

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