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Navy fires second sub commander in five days

By the end of last week, the Navy had fired two submarine commanders.

The relief of Capt. Gregory R. Kercher, head of the submarine Florida’s gold crew, arrived four days after the Navy fired the commanding officer of the Bremerton, Cmdr. Travis Zettel, on Aug. 27.

Kercher’s relief was due to a loss of confidence after superiors at U.S. Submarine Forces “became aware of a poor command climate,” Cmdr. Sarah Self-Kyler, a SUBFOR spokeswoman, said Monday.

Submarine Group 10 “immediately convened an investigation” into the climate, she said.

While that probe remains underway, “sufficient information” was uncovered to relieve Kercher, Self-Kyler said.

“The loss of confidence was not due to personal misconduct and (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) is not involved,” she said.

Kercher took command of the Florida just more than a year ago, in August 2017, according to personnel records.

He could not be reached for comment and has been temporarily reassigned to Submarine Group 10.

Capt. Michael Badorf has assumed command of the Georgia-based boat’s gold crew until a permanent replacement is identified.

Kercher’s 25-year career included stints aboard the submarines City of Corpus Christi, Tennessee, Columbus, Oklahoma City and Maryland.

His removal was first reported by

Zettel was relieved as the head of the submarine Bremerton, which is at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington state awaiting decommissioning and deactivation.

His removal stemmed from “questions of inappropriate personal conduct,” Submarine Group 9 officials said last week.

Officials said that the investigation into Zettel remains unfinished and NCIS is conducting its own probe into the unspecified allegations against him.

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