NORFOLK, Va. – The U.S. Navy fired a destroyer commander and a top aide and removed eight sailors from their ship in the Mediterranean after misbehavior by the crew in overseas ports that included drunk and disorderly conduct.
The U.S. 6th Fleet said Cmdr. Nathan Borchers was relieved from the USS Stout on Tuesday. Borchers had taken command of the Norfolk-based ship in December.
The Navy said it had lost confidence in Borchers' ability to address what it called a pattern of unprofessional behavior by his crew that included fraternization, orders violations and disregard for naval standards.
"We hold our leaders to a high standard. Our nation expects no less and our sailors deserve no less," Vice. Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet based in Naples, Italy, said in a statement.
The port calls involved liberty leave for the sailors in Haifa in Israel, in Palermo and Augusta Bay in Sicily, Italy, and Souda Bay in the Greek Island of Crete, said Lt. Nate Curtis, a fleet spokesman.
The Navy did not identify what misbehavior may have occurred in a specific port. None of the misbehavior led to complaints by host nations, Curtis said.
Curtis declined to specify which orders involving port call were violated, but indicated one possibility was ignoring orders to go out with a "liberty buddy" for safety and security reasons, and instead going out alone.
The USS Stout's problems are part of a recent string of command changes in the Navy because of misbehavior. In January, the Navy relieved the commander of the carrier USS Enterprise after raunchy videos were made public that he had showed thousands of sailors aboard the ship in 2006 and 2007.
Last month, the command master chief of the USS Ashland was relieved from duty because of an investigation that he had inappropriately touched another sailor.
The Navy said an investigation into allegations of crew misconduct on the USS Stout found there was a substandard command climate on board.
The Navy also removed Master Chief Susan Bruce-Ross, the highest ranking enlisted sailor aboard the ship.
Borchers, Bruce-Ross and the other unidentified sailors were being reassigned to jobs in Norfolk. One sailor is undergoing an independent review to determine whether the Navy will proceed with a court martial, said Lt. Cmdr. Bill Urban, spokesman for Naval Surface Force Atlantic.
The Navy said Cmdr. Sylvester Steele was scheduled to board a plane Wednesday to begin preparations to command the Stout. Steele was most recently the executive officer of the destroyer USS Ramage.
Urban said Steele was chosen for "his experience, stellar record and readiness to assume command."
Bruce-Ross will be replaced by Command Master Chief Anthony Cole, who most recently served at Naval Surface Force Atlantic headquarters in Norfolk.
Associated Press Correspondent Frances D'Emilio contributed to this report from Rome.