For the second time in a year, drinking in Panama City got the better of a senior leader.

The command senior chief of the medical facility on board the hospital ship Comfort was fired July 9 after allegedly getting drunk and acting up at a reception for the president of Panama, according to a source familiar with the incident.

Command Senior Chief Aurelio Ayala was reassigned to Military Sealift Command in Norfolk, Virginia, pending the outcome of the investigation. Ayala did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

In October, the commanding officer of the frigate Vandergrift was fired for grabbing the buttocks of the wife of one of his chiefs while they were out drinking at a bar.

The decision to remove Ayala was made by the medical treatment facility's CO, Capt. Christine Sears.

Ayala is also the second leg of the Comfort's triad to be fired this year.

Capt. Rachel Haltner, the commanding officer of the ship's medical treatment facility, was fired in March amid "an investigation into the command climate," Military Sealift Command stated in a Monday release.

One crewmember, who did not provide his or her name, alleged Haltner "has made life on board the ship unbearable," in a February letter to Navy Times. "She belittles her officers and chiefs and creates an atmosphere where no one feels safe to go against her word. Even when she is wrong, people are afraid to speak up."

Ayala's firing is, in fact, one in a series of leadership challenges faced by the Comfort's medical staff. In 2013, Capt. Kevin Knoop was removed for poor command climate.

A spokesman at the time said Knoop was detached from the running of the facility.

"There was a belief that there was a lack of leadership involvement in the day-to-day operations of the Comfort MTF," the spokesman said.

The ship is on a five-month on a humanitarian assistance mission. When it left it was slated to visit 11 Latin America and Caribbean countries: Belize, Colombia, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Panama as part of Continuing Promise 2015.

Its sister ship, the Mercy, is also on a humanitarian mission in the Pacific, known as Pacific Partnership.

Note: This story was updated on July 13 to correct misspellings.

David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News. Before that, he reported for Navy Times.

Share:
More In Your Navy
In Other News
Load More