Navy Times

Destroyer squadron boss fired amid misconduct probe

The captain who led Destroyer Squadron 2 was cashiered Wednesday amid an investigation into inappropriate conduct.

Capt. Tony Simmons, head of the Norfolk-based squadron, was fired by Carrier Strike Group 12 head Rear Adm. Roy Kelley on Wednesday after an investigation prompted a "loss of confidence in his ability to command," according to an official release.

"Capt. Anthony L. Simmons was relieved of his duties by Kelley due to loss of confidence in his ability to command as a result of failure to demonstrate the exemplary conduct expected of those in command," the Naval Surface Force Atlantic release said.

Simmons is the Navy's 15 commanding officer removed from their post this year and the second serving commodore. Capt. Kyle Moses, former head of Task Force 56, was removed amid the fallout from the capture of 10 sailors and two riverine command boats by Iranian forces in January.

An investigation found evidence Simmons allegedly made passes at an enlisted sailor on liberty and then was dishonest with his superiors when confronted about it, according to two Defense Department officials familiar with the investigation who were not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation.

Capt. Erik Eslich, the deputy commodore of Destroyer Squadron 2, has assumed command. Simmons has been reassigned to Naval Surface Force Atlantic. He had been in command of DESRON Two since March.

Simmons responded to a request for comment with a one-line email saying that the "Navy lost an elite officer."

Simmons, a 26-year surface warfare officer, had previously commanded the destroyer Lassen and the patrol craft Hurricane; he briefly took command of destroyer James E. Williams in the wake of a 2014 investigation. His shore assignments include a tour with the chief of naval operations staff in the surface warfare division, and a tour at the Bureau of Naval Personnel. Simmons is a graduate of Austin Peay State University in Tennessee and was commissioned via Officer Candidate School in June 1990, according to his official bio. 

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