Guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens commanding officer relieved of duty

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The commanding officer and command master chief of the San Diego-based guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens have been relieved of their duties, the Navy announced Tuesday.

Capt. Gregory Gombert and Master Chief Petty Officer Gabriel Keeton were let go by Rear Adm. Michael Smith, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 3, after a series of inspections following the ship’s return from deployment.

An investigation is underway, according to the Navy, which offered no further details.

Gombert was reassigned to the CSG 3 staff, while Keeton was sent to the Pacific Fleet Naval Surface Forces staff.

The Navy said Capt. Robert Chadwick II will assume temporary duties as commanding officer. Master Chief Petty Officer Richard Putnam will temporarily assume duties as command master chief.

The 567-foot “Mighty Moo” returned April 17 from a seven-month deployment, during which the vessel’s 400 sailors provided humanitarian aid to the Philippines following Super Typhoon Haiyan.

The cruiser is named after the American Revolutionary War battle fought on Jan. 17, 1781, at the “Cowpens” in South Carolina. During the battle, American soldiers defeated a much superior force of British soldiers, giving the American Army the confidence to pursue the British from South Carolina to Yorktown, Va.

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