U.S. Navy skipper fired over drunken misconduct in Russia

Sun Nov 4, 2012 8:40am IST

The crew of the U.S. Navy guided-missile frigate USS Vandegrift stand on deck during a naval parade rehearsal at the harbour of Russia's far eastern city of Vladivostok, July 23, 2010. REUTERS/Yuri Maltsev/Files

The crew of the U.S. Navy guided-missile frigate USS Vandegrift stand on deck during a naval parade rehearsal at the harbour of Russia's far eastern city of Vladivostok, July 23, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Maltsev/Files

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REUTERS - The skipper of a U.S. Navy frigate and three officers were fired on Saturday after an investigation found they had engaged in drunken behavior and misconduct during a recent port visit in Russia, the Navy said.

Commander Joseph R. Darlak was relieved of command of the USS Vandegrift in Guam after an investigation determined that several of the ship's officers had been drunk and disorderly during a visit to the Russian port of Vladivostok in September, a spokeswoman said.

"The officers demonstrated poor judgment including some officers being drunk (and) disorderly, and not adhering to established liberty policies," said Commander Tamsen Reese, spokeswoman for the Naval Surface Force Pacific.

The Navy also relieved the ship's executive officer, operations officer and chief engineer from their duties "for personal conduct and use of alcohol," Reese said.

The Navy Times reported it was the fleet's first mass firing stemming from a liberty port visit since March 2011.

Darlak and the other three officers were being temporarily re-assigned to fleet operations San Diego "pending potential other administrative actions," she said.

The Vandegrift left San Diego in May for a seven-month deployment to the western Pacific and docked in Vladivostok on September 21 for a visit, during which the misconduct occurred.

Darlak, a 1990 Naval Academy graduate, took command of the Vandegrift in Singapore July. He was the ship's 17th commanding officer.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Doina Chiacu)

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