Navy removes third commander from duty this year

"Navy leaders are held to high standards of personal and professional conduct, both on and off duty," the Navy said when announcing the commander's removal.

Published: February 11, 2024 9:38am

The U.S. Navy’s Destroyer Squadron 2 commander was relieved of duty "due to a loss of confidence" in his ability to perform, the Navy said, marking the third naval commander to be removed this year. 

Capt. William "Mac" Harkin was relieved of command of the squadron by Rear Adm. Erik Eslich, the leader of the Carrier Strike Group 12, the Navy said Saturday. 

Capt. James Von St. Paul will take over Harkin's duties with Destroyer Squadron 2 and Harkin will temporarily work on the staff of the Naval Surface Force Atlantic's commander. 

"Navy leaders are held to high standards of personal and professional conduct, both on and off duty. They are expected to uphold the highest standards of responsibility, reliability, and leadership, and the Navy holds them accountable," the Navy also said when announcing the staff change. 

Harkin is the third Navy commander to be removed this year, according to the military outlet Task & Purpose. Of the two who were relieved, the Navy similarly cited a "loss of confidence" for one, while the other was removed following a DUI arrest. The Navy removed 16 commanding officers last year, and a "loss of confidence" was given as the reasoning behind relieving 14 of them. 

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