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San Diego-Based USS Cowpens Commanding Officer, Command Master Chief Relieved Of Duty

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

Capt. Gregory W. Gombert

The commanding officer and the command master chief of the San Diego-based USS Cowpens were relieved of their duties on Tuesday. The Navy reported a loss of confidence in the ability to lead of both Capt. Gregory W. Gombert and Master Chief Petty Officer Gabriel J. Keeton as the reason for their removal:

The loss of confidence stems from the results of a series of inspections following the ship's return from deployment. An investigation is underway.

During the investigation, Capt. Robert B. Chadwick II will temporarily become the Cowpens commanding officer, and Master Chief Petty Officer Richard J. Putnam will take over as command master chief.

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

CMDCM Gabriel J. Keeton

The Navy reassigned Gombert to the staff of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 3, and Keeton to the staff of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The USS Cowpens returned in April from a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific. During that deployment,the Cowpens provided humanitarian aid to the Philippines in November 2013 following Super Typhoon Haiyan.

On Dec. 5, 2013, a Chinese warship almost collided with the Cowpens in the international waters of the South China Sea. At the time, the U.S. Pacific Fleet released a statement that read:

“While lawfully operating in international waters in the South China Sea, USS Cowpens and a PLA Navy vessel had an encounter that required maneuvering to avoid a collision.

"This incident underscores the need to ensure the highest standards of professional seamanship, including communications between vessels, to mitigate the risk of an unintended incident or mishap."

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