Navy relieves another Captain of Command

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by Maximus, Mar 21, 2010.

  1. Maximus

    Maximus Member

    Jun 19, 2008
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    Another one bites the dust:

    'Navy Ship's Captain Abused His Power'
    March 20, 2010
    The Virginian-Pilot
    NORFOLK -- Last summer, more than a year after completing a seemingly successful tour as commanding officer of the amphibious assault ship Wasp, Capt. Michael Hawley was removed from his post as the head of a Norfolk-based training group.

    At the time, the Navy didn't provide details about why Hawley was reassigned to a desk job. But a report from the Naval Inspector General's office outlines six personal or professional violations, including pressuring deployed Wasp sailors to buy suits and guns from visiting merchants and pilfering a set of salt-and-pepper shakers while attending a dinner hosted by the Canadian navy.

    The investigation also found Hawley improperly accepted a free helicopter ride and round of golf at an exclusive club during Fleet Week in New York City in 2007 and that he delayed kicking troubled sailors off the ship in order to win an award for retention.

    Additionally, the report says, Hawley took leave without documenting his absence from the ship, and forced the ship's morale, welfare and recreation committee to give him $500 for prizes he won in a golf tournament and "donated" back to the ship.

    Descriptions of the violations -- as well as a dozen additional allegations that investigators could not substantiate -- were compiled in a 40-page report The Virginian-Pilot obtained in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. The investigation was first reported by Navy Times.

    Hawley, who remains on temporary duty in Norfolk, declined to comment for this story.

    The complaints that led to the investigation were apparently reported, anonymously, to the Department of Defense Inspector General's hot line in October 2008 -- five months after Hawley left the ship to become commander of the Navy's Afloat Training Group Atlantic in Norfolk.

    More than a dozen people were interviewed in the course of the investigation, including Hawley.

    The investigation found that during the Wasp's 2007 deployment, Hawley used his position as commanding officer "to promote the sales of rugs, suits and shotguns from specific vendors to the crew and wardroom of Wasp."

    Hawley would often get on the ship's intercom encouraging the crew to buy suits from a tailor he had had flown to Bahrain, the report said. He did the same with a Turkish gun vendor, and he included a link for ordering shotguns on the Wasp's internal Web page. It fell to the leading chief petty officer of the ship's air department to process the sales, the report said. Business appeared to be brisk: records showed 746 gun orders, a ratio of one gun for every two crew members on board.

    When investigators asked Hawley how much he paid for the three guns he purchased, he said he didn't remember. Did he get a better deal on the guns than other crew members? "Well, I never thought of it that way," Hawley responded, according to the report.

    Another example along the same lines: Officers were required to attend a "rug flop" while on liberty in Bahrain in October 2007, according to e-mails. The mandatory function featured free food and drink with a rug salesman displaying his wares. One attendee told investigators that officers were pressured to buy rugs, and that Hawley used the crew's purchases to receive free rugs or discounts on his own purchases.

    Another violation occurred a few months before the Mid-east deployment, when the Wasp docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in June 2007.

    After a formal dinner hosted by the Canadian navy, Hawley pocketed a pair of ceremonial salt-and-pepper shakers, the report found. When first questioned about the matter, Hawley adamantly denied taking the set -- described as "old military items with Canadian emblems" -- but he later told investigators that after talking to his wife, he realized he did have them and recalled trading them for command coins.

    That account didn't wash with other crew members at the dinner, who said no gift exchange occurred.

    The report said that although the shakers "are likely of little monetary value, their theft should not be minimized, particularly since (he) was a guest at an official function of a foreign country and attended as a representative of the U.S. Navy."

    Additionally, investigators noted that Hawley didn't tolerate similar misconduct among his crew. Presiding over an administrative hearing for a third-class petty officer accused of stealing a $15 bottle of wine while the Wasp was in Colombia, the report noted, Hawley found the sailor guilty, docked his pay for two months, kept him on restriction for 45 days and ordered him to perform extra duty.

    The same month of the salt-and-pepper shaker incident, Hawley did something else investigators ruled inappropriate: in exchange for a speaking engagement, he accepted a free helicopter ride from New York City, where the Wasp was spending Fleet Week, to a Trump National Golf Club course outside the city.

    Hawley said he played golf at no charge -- a round at the course costs upwards of $250 -- after speaking to a group about the Navy. No other crew members were invited, he told investigators, and the admiral in charge of Fleet Week had planned to play but had to back out.

    Someone on Hawley's staff tried to dissuade him from attending, the report notes, telling the captain it might be viewed unfavorably by the crew. Regardless of how it looked, investigators determined, it violated federal policy prohibiting gifts "given because of the employee's position." It also violated federal guidelines that dictate military members speaking to non-government groups cannot accept gifts worth more than $20.

    The captain also came under fire for encouraging his staff to sometimes delay the separation of sailors being kicked out for drug or alcohol abuse -- a practice that improved the ship's retention statistics in certain quarters, making it eligible to win an award known as The Golden Anchor.

    The captain didn't deny holding back paperwork in order to win the award. When confronted, the report said he responded, "Would I do something like that? Yeah, I would do something like that. Did I kick out everybody who was supposed to be kicked out? Yes. Did I ever get an official correspondence saying I was late? No. I was too smart for that."

    Hawley was relieved of command last August after an admiral's mast, a type of non judicial punishment, conducted by Rear Adm. Kevin Quinn.

    Paul Taylor, a spokesman for the Navy's Atlantic Surface Force, said Hawley is temporarily working at that command, pending reassignment.

    He said he could not comment specifically on Hawley's future but noted that anytime an officer receives non judicial punishment, the Bureau of Naval Personnel is notified. That could result in a hearing to determine whether the officer is retained for further service.

    Please note, there is no cryptic message or hidden agenda as claimed by the passive aggressive one lol
  2. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

    Jun 8, 2006
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    Sweepers, sweepers, man your brooms!

    It's time to clean out the riff-raff!

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