Monday, July 18, 2011
Unlucky Number 13 Fired - "Loss of confidence in his ability to command"? or to drive a ship safely?
Rear Admiral Phillip Sawyer, Commander Task Force 74/54, relieved Captain Eric Merrill - CO USS EMORY S. LAND (AS39) as a result of an investigation into an incident that occurred June 21 in which AS39 struck a channel buoy during an inbound transit to Mina Salman port in Bahrain. At admiral's mast July 15, Merrill was awarded non-judicial punishment for violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 110 (improper hazarding of vessel).
In early 2010, Emory S. Land completed its conversion from an all U.S. Navy Sailor crew to an integrated crew of Sailors and civilian mariners, becoming the first submarine tender to operate under this hybrid crew concept. Emory S. Land remains under the command of a U.S. Navy captain, though not the one who assumed command in September 2010.
Captain Merrill completed nearly 10 months in command of AS39. He has been administratively reassigned to the staff of Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Captain Thomas Stanley, previous commanding officer of submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40), has assumed command of AS39 until a permanent replacement is named. Following the collision, the submarine tender pulled into port in Bahrain where it is currently making preparations for repairs. No crew members were injured in the incident. Investigations are in progress.