Friday, December 11, 2009
The commanding officer of the dock landing ship Fort McHenry has been relieved of duty due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command, the Navy announced Friday. The action came after an investigation found that Cmdr. Christopher M. Stopyra had fraternized with a subordinate on the ship. The nature of the relationship was not described. The ship's executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Brian P. Goldschmidt, was also relieved because he had been made aware of the allegations but failed to take appropriate action, the Navy said. Stopyra received a nonjudicial punishment at captain's mast Thursday and was relieved of his duties. The ship returned from deployment earlier this week. "The relationship between the commanding officer and the subordinate caused an erosion of morale and good order and discipline among the officers and crew," said Rear Adm. Michelle Howard, the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group Two, in a news release.
USS Fort McHenry (LSD43)Stopyra, who had been in command since May, was reassigned to administrative duties on the staff of Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic. He has been temporarily replaced by Capt. Skip Shaw. Stopyra is the second commanding officer this month to be relieved for circumstances involving fraternization. Last week, the C.O. and command master chief of the Norfolk-based destroyer James E. Williams were removed from duty after nine of their crew members were punished for fraternization that occurred on a recent deployment. Cmdr. Paul Marquis and Command Master Chief Timothy Youell were reassigned to administrative jobs. And at least one crew member is facing criminal charges for an alleged sexual assault reported while the ship was in the Mediterranean Sea. A second sexual assault, reported five days later, is still being investigated.