In an unusual move, the Navy has replaced an admiral commanding an aircraft carrier strike group while it is deployed to the Middle East. The replacement was prompted by an Inspector General’s investigation of allegations of inappropriate leadership judgment.
Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette, the commander of the USS John C. Stennis strike group, is being returned to the United States for temporary reassignment.
In a statement the Navy said it had approved a request made by Vice Adm. John W. Miller, the Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, to temporarily reassign Gaouette “pending the results of an investigation by the Navy Inspector General.”
The statement said Gaoutte would return to the carrier’s home port of Bremerton, Washington.
A Navy official familiar with the circumstances of the investigation said it involved allegations of “inappropriate leadership judgment” and stressed it was not related to personal conduct.
The Stennis group arrived in the Fifth Fleet’s area of operations on Oct. 17 to replace the USS Enterprise, which was on the final deployment of its 50 years of service. The allegations are recent and were made within the last couple of weeks.
The Stennis returned to Bremerton in March from a seven-month deployment to the Middle East. In July the Pentagon ordered the carrier to deploy in August — four months ahead of schedule — so a two-carrier presence could be maintained in the Middle East after the Enterprise finished its deployment. The other carrier strike group currently operating in the Fifth Fleet is the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Gaouette’s Chief of Staff, Capt. William C. Minter, will lead the strike group until Rear Adm. Troy M. Shoemaker arrives to take command “until the matter is resolved.”