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Cruiser CO relieved for ‘cruelty'

March 15, 2013 (Photo Credit: image Credit)

The commanding officer of the Yokosuka, Japan-based cruiser Cowpens was relieved of duty Wednesday after being punished for "cruelty and maltreatment" during her time in charge, the Navy announced. In an unusual move, she is being permitted to continue on to an assignment in the Pentagon.

Capt. Holly Graf was brought before an admiral's mast with Rear Adm. Kevin Donegan, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 5, after an inspector general's investigation found problems with her "temperament and demeanor vis-a-vis her subordinates," said Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for 7th Fleet.

Davis said he could not elaborate about what the IG had found about Graf's treatment of her crew, but he said it had been taking place "over a length of time," including when the ship was in port and at sea. Specifically, Donegan found Graf guilty of violating Article 93 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice — which covers "cruelty and maltreatment" — and Article 133, "conduct unbecoming an officer," according to information provided by Davis.

Replacing Graf in command is Capt. Robert Marin, Davis said, who had already been scheduled to take over for her some time in January. Marin had been aboard the Cowpens since the end of December, making preparations for a normal change of command, so Donegan "ordered the change of command be executed immediately based on the non-judicial punishment and in the best interests of the ship and crew," Davis said.

Davis said he didn't think an exact date had been set yet for a normal change of command, but that Marin was to have taken over before the end of January. Graf is under orders to move on to a new assignment on the Navy Staff in the Pentagon, Davis said — a move already scheduled before her relief this week.

Her continuing into a job to which she had already been assigned is unusual for a Navy captain who has been relieved; many fired COs are assigned to the staff of their parent command and their careers effectively ended.

Graf is a 1985 graduate of the Naval Academy, according to her official Navy biography; she commanded the destroyer Winston S. Churchill, among other assignments, before taking command of the Cowpens in March 2008.

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