Navy Skippers: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

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Navy photo by MSC 1st Class Jason J. Perry

Commander Michael Ward assumes command of the attack submarine USS Pittsburgh August 3, a command he held only until August 10.

Ernest Borgnine, God bless him, may have passed on, but real Navy skippers can fill the void left by Lieut. Commander Quinton McHale’s passing. Check out the latest from the New London Day:

Navy Cmdr. Michael P. Ward II, who has been accused of having an affair with a 23-year-old Chesapeake, Va., woman and faking his death as a means of ending it, has been relieved of his duties as the commanding officer of the USS Pittsburgh, just one week after he was put in command.

The newspaper, near the major Navy submarine base in Groton, Conn., reported that the unnamed woman alleges she met Ward, 43, on a dating website last October. Ward told her, she alleged, that he was separated from his wife when, in fact, he is married with three children. He also told her, she alleged that he worked in “special ops,” a flashing red light if there ever were one.

She said he got her pregnant then, in an effort to end the relationship, faked his death in an email communication in July…”I don’t want revenge here,” the woman said in a telephone interview Sunday. “I want everyone to know the truth about Michael. He does not need to be commanding a submarine. He’s a deceitful man.”

How and why Ward was permitted to take command of the Los Angeles-class attack sub Pittsburgh – a ceremony attended by his 93-year-old grandmother – only a week before he was booted remains unclear. The Navy investigation continues.  He is the 13th Navy commanding officer cashiered this year.

“The U.S. Navy has an integrity problem in the ranks of its commanding officers,” Navy Captain Mark Light writes in the summer issue of the Naval War College Review. “Even more worrisome is the fact that a large and increasing percentage of those dismissals are due to personal misconduct, such as sexual harassment, drunkenness, and fraternization.”

Thank God Tim Conway’s hapless Ensign Charles Parker, McHale’s sidekick, is still with us. He may be the only one who can explain what’s happening inside the Navy’s wardrooms.