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The Sullivans skipper relieved of command

May. 8, 2012 - 05:34PM   |   Last Updated: May. 8, 2012 - 05:34PM  |  
Cmdr. Derick Armstrong was the 10th commander fired this year
Cmdr. Derick Armstrong was the 10th commander fired this year (Navy)
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The skipper of the destroyer The Sullivans was relieved of command Tuesday — the third commanding officer on the Mayport, Fla.-based ship fired in less than two years.

Vice Adm. Frank C. Pandolfe, 6th Fleet commander, relieved Cmdr. Derick Armstrong due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command, a Navy spokesman said.

"The relief occurred as a result of an unprofessional command climate that was contrary to good order and discipline," said Cmdr. Marc Boyd, a spokesman for 6th Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Africa. The Sullivans is on a regularly scheduled deployment to the area.

The issues that led to Armstrong's termination were raised April 9, Boyd said, but he did not provide additional details.

Armstrong was the 10th commander fired this year, and the first destroyer skipper of the bunch.

He has been reassigned to the staff of Destroyer Squadron 14. Meanwhile, Capt. John Esposito, deputy commander of Destroyer Squadron 60 and former commander of the destroyer Donald Cook, will serve as CO until a permanent replacement arrives.

Armstrong, who took command Nov. 7 and could not be reached for comment, is the third CO from The Sullivans to be relieved in less than two years. Cmdr. Mark Olson was relieved Sept. 7 due to "a loss of confidence in his ability to command." Olson was in charge during a gunnery exercise at the Cherry Point Operating Range Area off the North Carolina coast when the ship mistook a fishing vessel for a target. No one was hurt in the incident.

A predecessor, Cmdr. Neil Funtanilla, was fired after the destroyer struck a buoy in the Persian Gulf while en route to Manama, Bahrain. A nonjudicial hearing found he was "derelict in the performance of his duties," and he was relieved May 18, 2010.

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