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Navy fires 4 leaders in 2 separate incidents

May. 1, 2012 - 07:20PM   |   Last Updated: May. 1, 2012 - 07:20PM  |  
The Navy fired Cmdr. Dennis J. Klein as CO of attack sub Columbia on May 1.
The Navy fired Cmdr. Dennis J. Klein as CO of attack sub Columbia on May 1. (Navy)
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The Navy fired Cmdr. Lee D. Hoey as CO of the Navy Drug Screening Lab in San Diego on May 1. (Navy)

The Navy on Tuesday sacked two commanding officers, an executive officer and a senior enlisted leader all due to professional shortcomings.

The commanding officer and top enlisted on a Hawaii-based attack submarine were fired for a loss of confidence in their abilities, Submarine Force Pacific said. Their reliefs came only minutes after the announcement of firings at the Navy's San Diego-based drug screening lab.

The submarine reliefs are unrelated to those at the drug screening lab. All told, they bring the Navy to nine CO and nine senior enlisted reliefs for cause this year.

Onboard attack submarine Columbia, Cmdr. Dennis Klein, the CO, and Master Chief Electronics Technician (SS) Don Williams, the chief of the boat, were relieved by the commander of Submarine Squadron 7, Capt. James Pitts.

"It was determined that Commander Klein didn't exhibit adequate leadership" during some assessments, said SUBPAC spokeswoman Cmdr. Christy Hagen, adding: "Master Chief Williams failed to provide the deckplate-level leadership and backup required of the position of the chief of the boat."

No investigation has been conducted, said Hagen, who was unable to go into any more details about the nature of the assessments or what Klein's leadership shortfalls had been.

Klein, 41, is an Iowa native who graduated in 1992 from the University of Iowa with a physics degree, according to his official bio. Klein is the 2nd sub CO fired this year, according to Navy press releases.

Williams, 37, of Franklin, Wis., enlisted in May 1994, according to Navy Personnel Command records. He became a master chief last year. Williams is the 4th COB fired this year.

Capt. Dennis Boyer and Command Master Chief (SS) Manuel Meneses, both on the squadron's staff, have temporarily assumed duties as CO and COB, respectively. Boyer has commanded Los Angeles-class sub Miami, a SUBPAC statement said.

The sub returned from a six-month Western Pacific cruise in December, Hagen said.

The other reliefs were shore-side.

The Navy Drug Screening Lab CO and XO's firings stemmed from a poor command climate, said Capt. Cappy Surette, spokesman for the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

Cmdr. Lee Hoey, the CO, and Cmdr. Shelly Hakspiel, the XO, were relieved by Capt. Michael Macinski, the head of the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center based in Portsmouth, Va.

"The issues that led to the leadership change weren't associated with the command's mission of sample processing accuracy," Surette said, adding that it was due to poor performance on command climate surveys. Some of these had been prompted by hotline reports to the inspector general, Surette said.

These are the second time in a month that BUMED leaders have been fired. The CO and CMC of Navy Health Clinic New England http://www.navytimes.com/news/2012/04/navy-heath-clinic-new-england-co-cmc-fired-04112012w/">were fired April 6 after a survey found command climate problems.

"With the arrival a new leadership team at BUMED, there has been an increased call for intrusive leadership," Surette said. "Every one of these events is isolated. However, there is a much greater focus on these in the Navy medical community."

The San Diego site is one of the Navy's three drug labs, which test urine samples for the presence of narcotics like cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy. The other labs are in Jacksonville, Fla. and Great Lakes, Ill.

According to command figures, the San Diego lab processed over 900,000 urine samples last year. Also on Tuesday, these labs began testing samples for frequently-abused prescription drugs like Vicodin and Valium.

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