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Navy removes ship’s command after boozy port visit

In this Sept. 20 2012 phomade available by U.S. Navy Cmdr. Joseph R. Darlak right foreground commanding officer guided missile

In this Sept. 20, 2012 photo made available by the U.S. Navy, Cmdr. Joseph R. Darlak, right foreground, commanding officer of the guided missile frigate USS Vandegrift, takes a bite of a traditional offering of bread and salt after arriving in Vladivostok for a port visit during operations in the Western Pacific. Cmdr. Darlak was relieved of command Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, in San Diego, after an investigation for demonstrating poor leadership and failing to ensure proper officer conduct during the three-day September stop. Executive officer Lt. Cmdr. Ivan A. Jimenez and the ship's chief engineer and operations officer were also relieved. The Navy cited use of alcohol and not adhering to behavior policies. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy Photo by Lt. J.G. Ryan P. Mutha)

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SAN DIEGO — The commander and top officers of a San Diego-based Navy frigate have been relieved of duty after a rowdy, booze-fueled port visit to Vladivostok, Russia.

Cmdr. Joseph E. Darlak, skipper of the USS Vandegrift, was removed Friday by Capt. John L. Schultz after an investigation “due to loss of confidence after demonstrating poor leadership and failure to ensure the proper conduct of his wardroom officers” during the three-day September stop, the Navy said in a statement.

Executive officer Lt. Cmdr. Ivan A. Jimenez and the ship’s chief engineer and operations officer were also relieved “for personal conduct involving use of alcohol and not adhering to established liberty policies,” the statement said.

The names of the two lower-ranked officers were not released because their positions are not considered public under Navy policy, and Navy officials did not give specifics on the misbehavior of any of the officers.

In a post on the official Facebook page of the Navy’s 7th Fleet, the commander celebrated the visit as it began on Sept. 20.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to visit Vladivostok and experience all the city has to offer,” Darlak said in the post. “Our sailors are especially looking forward to making new friends.”

The officers were relieved during a port visit in Guam, and they’ll be temporarily reassigned in San Diego pending more possible administrative actions, the Navy Times reported.

Darlak’s ouster comes just over three months after he assumed command of the Vandegrift. He previously served as executive officer of the destroyer Stethem.

Capt. H. Thomas Workman, a deputy commander from the ship’s squadron, has taken over the Vandegrift until it returns to San Diego at the end of its seven-month deployment later this month, the statement said, and the Navy emphasizes that the ship remains fully ready for any mission.

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