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USS Cowpens leaders relieved of duty

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  • Navy commanders relieved of duty after inspections on USS Cowpens

    Tuesday, June 10 2014 11:24 PM EDT2014-06-11 03:24:44 GMT
    The commanding officer and command master chief of the San Diego-based guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens have been relieved of their duties, the Navy announced Tuesday. 
    The commanding officer and command master chief of the San Diego-based guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens have been relieved of their duties, the Navy announced Tuesday. 

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A shake-up in the ranks for a San Diego-based Navy ship -- two top leaders are relieved of duty.

The commanding officer and the command master chief of the USS Cowpens have been transferred off the ship.

Captain Gregory Gombert and his senior enlisted advisor, Master Chief Petty Officer Gabriel Keeton were relieved because of a loss of confidence in their "ability to effectively lead and carry out their assigned duties."

Gombert spoke to CBS News 8 before a deployment last year.

"I'm so proud of this crew. I've been doing it for 24 years now and you can always count on a sailor," he said.

The Navy says that loss of confidence stems from the results of a series of inspections following the ship's return from deployment, and it says an investigation is underway.

The guided missile cruiser most recently went to the Philippines in November 2013 to offer aid after a typhoon. At the time of that deployment, Keeton told us he was losing track of trips at sea.

In December, the Cowpens was involved in a confrontation with a small Chinese warship, and they almost collided. According to the Union Tribune, the removal of Gombert and Keeton is not related to that incident.

The Navy says Captain Robert Chadwick II will assume temporary duties as commanding officer, and Master Chief Petty Officer Richard J. Putnam will temporarily assume duties as commanding master chief

Both Gombert and Keeton have been temporarily re-assigned. The Navy hasn't said yet how long it expects its investigation to take.

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