Navy report: USS Cowpens skipper retreated to cabin for weeks - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Navy report: USS Cowpens skipper retreated to cabin for weeks

Posted: Updated:
USS Cowpens (Photo US Navy) USS Cowpens (Photo US Navy)
  • RelatedMore>>

  • USS Cowpens leaders relieved of duty

    USS Cowpens leaders relieved of duty

    Wednesday, June 11 2014 4:40 PM EDT2014-06-11 20:40:22 GMT
    A shake-up in the ranks for a San Diego-based Navy ship -- two top leaders are relieved of duty. 
    A shake-up in the ranks for a San Diego-based Navy ship -- two top leaders are relieved of duty. 
  • 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 (AP) — A Navy investigation finds the ailing skipper of a San Diego-based Navy cruiser retreated to his cabin for several weeks in the middle of a deployment, leaving the 330-member crew leaderless.

The probe also revealed that the skipper of the USS Cowpens, Capt. Gregory W. Gombert, was having an improper and "unduly familiar" relationship with the cruiser's acting executive officer, U-T San Diego reported Wednesday.

The Navy removed Gombert and the ship's command master chief, Master Chief Petty Officer Gabriel J. Keeton, from their positions on June 10. The reason given at the time was poor ship condition.

Gombert's medical problems were not disclosed, but investigators said they should not have left him unable to lead. They also shouldn't have required him to retreat to his cabin from early January through March, officials said.

"The violations revealed by the investigation, especially the blatant abdication of command responsibility on the part of the (commanding officer), are among the most egregious I have encountered in my 32-year career," wrote Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, the three-star admiral in charge of the Navy's Pacific surface ships.

At a July 25 administrative hearing, Gombert was found guilty of several counts of disobeying an order and conduct unbecoming an officer. So was the former acting executive officer, whom the newspaper identified in a Navy photo from March as Lt. Cmdr. Destiny Savage.

Neither Gombert nor Savage could immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

Keeton was found guilty of two counts of disobeying an order, apparently because he failed to notify anyone outside the ship of the troubles on board — despite telling crew members that he would.

The investigation found the skipper's unacceptable absence from the bridge predated his illness.

Of the 48 "special evolutions" that the ship performed — tricky maneuvers such as getting close to a refueling ship — Gombert was on the bridge for just 27, according to U-T San Diego.

His health-related seclusion began in mid-January, when he came down with an illness that required bed rest for 10 to 20 days, according to the investigation.

Gombert told his superiors that he questioned his ability to lead on two of those days and later said he considered asking for convalescent time, but decided against it.

As for Gombert's relationship with Savage, the newspaper reported that starting in December, the crew noticed the two officers spent evenings alone in Gombert's cabin, with the door closed. Savage frequently was seen making dinner for Gombert in his cabin and keeping her toiletries in his private bathroom there, according to investigators.

Also, the investigation said, the two went away for days together during port visits.

___

Information from: U-T San Diego

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • 17th annual Fleet Week Coronado Speed Festival

    17th annual Fleet Week Coronado Speed Festival

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 1:19 PM EDT2014-09-16 17:19:03 GMT
    The Coronado Speed Festival is part of San Diego's annual Fleet Week, an event organized to pay tribute to our nation's military and to help increase exposure to the military community in San Diego.

     
    The Coronado Speed Festival is part of San Diego's annual Fleet Week, an event organized to pay tribute to our nation's military and to help increase exposure to the military community in San Diego.

     
  • San Diego fiance pleads for Hurricane Odile aid

    San Diego fiance pleads for Hurricane Odile aid

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 12:39 PM EDT2014-09-16 16:39:04 GMT
    Hurricane Odile crashed one San Diego woman's bachelorette party in Cabo San Lucas. Rachel Lemay and her friends are among the thousands of tourists left stranded in the aftermath of what is now Tropical Storm Odile. And now Lemay's fiancé, who is in San Diego, is requesting humanitarian aid. 
    Hurricane Odile crashed one San Diego woman's bachelorette party in Cabo San Lucas. Rachel Lemay and her friends are among the thousands of tourists left stranded in the aftermath of what is now Tropical Storm Odile. And now Lemay's fiancé, who is in San Diego, is requesting humanitarian aid. 
  • Man gets 10 years in girlfriend's explosives death

    Man gets 10 years in girlfriend's explosives death

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 12:01 PM EDT2014-09-16 16:01:48 GMT
    A 41-year-old man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for setting off a homemade cannon-like device that killed his longtime girlfriend in Southern California. 
    A 41-year-old man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for setting off a homemade cannon-like device that killed his longtime girlfriend in Southern California. 
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and Midwest Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.