Navy Relieves Commander of Ship That Ran Aground After Sochi Tour

The Navy has relieved the commander of the frigate USS Taylor, citing a "loss of confidence" after the vessel ran aground in a Turkish port two weeks ago, U.S. military officials said today.

The Taylor was one of two Navy ships assigned to the Black Sea around the time of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The vessel ran aground on Feb. 12 as it prepared to moor in the northern Turkish port of Samsun, where it was scheduled to make a brief stop for fuel, officials said. The vessel proceeded with its mooring and no one was injured in the incident, which still remains under investigation.

Following a preliminary investigation, Cmdr. Dennis Volpe was relieved of duty "due to a loss of confidence in Volpe's ability to command," the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa said in a statement today, noting that Volpe has been re-assigned to the staff of Commander, Destroyer Squadron 14.

The Taylor remains in the Black Sea "supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation" with regional partners, the statement added. An assessment following the grounding found damage to the ship's propellers that resulted in a leak of 175 gallons of oil, but no damage to the ship's hull.

The Taylor and the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney arrived in the Black Sea just before the start of the Winter Olympics and took up a position 20 miles southwest of Sochi in international waters. About a week later, the Taylor traveled to Samsun, which is about 240 miles southwest of Sochi.

The Pentagon announced in January that the ships would be making a routine deployment to the Black Sea though officials also said the ships could be used to help evacuate Americans from the Olympics should the need arise. Prior to the start of the Sochi Games there was great concern that Islamic terrorist groups might go through with threats to disrupt the games.

The USS Mount Whitney remained off the coast for the duration of the Olympics and is currently on a port visit to Istanbul, officials said.