Lt. Cmdr. Fred Seaton was removed from command of the Coast Guard buoy tender Maple amid an investigation into reports of a poor command climate. (Rachel Waldholz / KCAW News)
The commander of an Alaska-based Coast Guard cutter has been temporarily relieved amid an investigation into command-climate issues, the service said Tuesday.
Lt. Cmdr. Fred Seaton, who had been in charge of the buoy tender Maple since June 2012, was reassigned Oct. 1 to Air Station Sitka because of a “loss of confidence” in his ability to command, Chief Public Affairs Specialist Kip Wadlow told Navy Times.
The move is pending the results of the ongoing investigation; Wadlow could not elaborate on the nature of the probe, but he confirmed reports that Coast Guard District 17 launched an inquiry Sept. 20 after receiving reports of a poor command climate under Seaton.
On Sept. 26, the results of a preliminary investigation prompted district commander Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo to temporarily relieve Seaton, Wadlow said.
“Coast Guard commanding officers have a responsibility to not only conduct operations in the field, but they’re also in charge of leading their crews in a professional manner,” Wadlow said, though he couldn’t offer specifics in Seaton’s case. “This includes creating a positive working environment where people can come into work, they can feel safe and they’re given opportunities to succeed and advance.”
Wadlow could not confirm whether Seaton had come under investigation or was subject to administrative intervention at any other point in his career.
“If that stuff did occur, it would be in someone’s personnel file and those are not releasable,” he said.
Lt. Raymond Reichl, Maple’s executive officer, has taken over for Seaton during the investigation. Wadlow could not give any details about how long it might take to complete.
“With all investigations, we want to be as thorough as possible to discover the facts that lead up to accusations of a poor command climate,” he said.
Maple is a 225-foot Juniper-class buoy tender covering 1,000 miles of waterways between Juneau and Ketchikan on the Alaska peninsula. The crew is charged with search and rescue, fisheries law enforcement, pollution response and navigation aid.