The Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, and Command Master Chief of the US Navy Amphibious Construction Battalion were all relieved of command on February 4, 2022, “due to a loss of confidence in their abilities to effectively perform their leadership roles,” and were subsequently reassigned to the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic.
The battalion’s leaders, Capt. Jeffrey Lengkeek, commanding officer; Cmdr. Michael Jarosz, executive officer, and; Command Master Chief Matthew Turner were removed by Rear. Adm. John V. Menoni, Commander of the Expeditionary Strike Group Two (ESG 2).
While no specific details were given regarding what triggered the loss of confidence with the triad, it was discovered that the three were dismissed following a formal command investigation within the battalion.
The Spokesman for Expeditionary Strike Group 2 Lt. Cmdr. Paul Newell said last Monday. The investigation, which had started last December 15, has been said to be still ongoing, with Newell confirming that no further disciplinary action was to take place against the command triad at the current time. Thus, the reasons behind the investigation remain unclear. Generally speaking when the Navy removes the entire command team of a unit, it signals that a breach of regulations occurred by one, two, or all that was covered up or not handled according to regulations.
Upon their dismissal, Amphibious Construction Battalion 2 Command will be headed by Capt. Brian C. Finman as a Temporary Commanding Officer replacing Lengkeek. Cmdr. Henry P. Pierce IV will temporarily replace Jarosz as Executive Officer. Lastly, Turner will be temporarily replaced by Master Chief Todd Mangin as Command Master Chief.
“There is no impact to the command’s mission or schedule due to the reliefs,” said the US Navy in a press release.
The Seabees of Amphibious Construction Battalion
According to the US Navy Seabee Museum, the Amphibious Construction Battalions, otherwise known as “Seabees,” mainly support naval units for reinforced infantry division landing over four battalion-size beaches. Essentially, the battalion provides construction support of amphibious assault operations and equipment and troop movement methods.
Amphibious Construction Battalion 2 specifically operates on the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Its main function is to support and provide ship-to-shore movement, maritime prepositioning of equipment, and other construction operations.
Historically, it has taken part in every major amphibious assault since the invasion of Sicily, being commissioned as the 105th Naval Construction Battalion on 14 July 1943. The battalion has 1,100 active duty reserve men and women.
Are firing and Reassignments Rare?
According to a report by Newsweek, firing or relieving an entire command is rare but not “unprecedented.” According to retired Navy Commander Bryan Clark, around 40 Navy leaders are fired each year.
In 2016, a triad of senior leadership was assigned to the very well-known guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG-96), a vessel known for being part of Captain Phillip’s rescue when the M/V Maersk Alabama was held hostage by pirates, was relieved. Commander Sean Rongers, executive officer Cmdr. Brandon Murray and Command Master Chief Richard Holmes were all relieved as it was discovered that commercial fireworks were found onboard. It was also determined that unlawful gambling had been taking place within the vessel, contributing to the ship’s poor command climate. (Editor’s Note: If every commander of a naval unit was relieved for gambling among sailors, there would be Third Class Petty Officers in charge of aircraft carriers)
In 2018, the Navy Times reported that the entire command of the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 was fired when it was discovered that Lt. Cmdr. Jason M. Gabbard was found streaking in the woods wearing only his boots during deployment to Okinawa, Japan, in Camp Shields. Their commanding officer, Cmdr. James J. Cho and Command Master Chief (SCW/EXW) Jason K. Holden were guilty of covering up the event. They were said to be intoxicated.
In 2019, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that three senior leaders of the San Diego-based SEAL Team 7 were fired. They were accused of sexual assault by a female service member following a 4th of July party, which left the leaders highly intoxicated.