In a decisive move that underscores the high standards expected of naval leadership, the US Navy announced earlier this week that it had relieved Captain Lenard C. Mitchell of his command following the grounding of the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB-4) near the coast of Libreville, Gabon.

This decision came after an initial review of the May incident revealed enough concerns to warrant such a measure.

Incident Details and Leadership Accountability

The Hershel “Woody” Williams, a Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary mobile base, experienced what the Navy described as a “soft grounding” on May 9, 2024.

The ship, named after the legendary Marine and Medal of Honor recipient who famously wielded a flamethrower against Japanese fortifications on Iwo Jima, was stuck for approximately four hours before refloating on the high tide.