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Destroyer CO fired in wake of tanker collision

Aug. 30, 2012 - 10:45AM   |   Last Updated: Aug. 30, 2012 - 10:45AM  |  
Cmdr. Martin Arriola took command of Porter in Sept. 2011.
Cmdr. Martin Arriola took command of Porter in Sept. 2011. (Navy)
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Amid an official investigation into the Aug. 12 collision that left the destroyer Porter smashed, the Navy relieved the destroyer's commanding officer Thursday "due to a loss of confidence" in his ability to command.

Cmdr. Martin Arriola, who took command of Porter in September 2011, was fired by Rear Adm. Dave Thomas, head of Naval Surface Force Atlantic, SURFLANT said in a statement Thursday. The Porter's">collision with an oil tanker was the fleet's">second collision in four months.

The collision between Porter and the supertanker Otowasan occurred in the Persian Gulf, just after Porter had completed a transit through the Strait of Hormuz, where the Japanese-owned tanker was headed. The circumstances of the collision remain unclear, but the impact left Porter battered, tearing open a gaping hole in the ship's starboard side above the waterline. No crew members were injured in the collision. Under its own power, the ship limped back to Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates, where the ship's damage is being assessed and evaluated.

Naval Sea Systems Command, which is managing the assessments, was unable to immediately provide an estimated cost of repairs. But damage is likely to be extensive. Photos show a room-sized hole torn into the ship's starboard side, around the maindeck. The refueling station appears flattened, and the hull is crinkled on both sides of the impact, with tears running up the superstructure.

The SURFLANT decision makes Arriola the 15th CO fired across the Navy this year and represents a stark setback for the high-performing surface warfare officer. Arriola, 42, joined the Navy in 1992 after graduating from the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., serving as a reservist for three years before entering active duty, according to his bio.

During his 20-year career, Arriola served aboard the aircraft carrier George Washington and destroyers Barry, Laboon and Stout. He also volunteered for an Iraq tour, where he helped train and equip the Iraqi police. Arriola has earned the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, four Navy Commendation Medals, and Navy and Joint Service Achievement Medals.

Arriola has been reassigned to SURFLANT. Cmdr. Dave Richardson, the former executive officer on the destroyer McFaul, has been named Porter's permanent CO.

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