Navy's Top Enlisted Leader Investigated over Hostile Leadership Claims

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven S. Giordano speaks with Sailors from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Jan. 10, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Alex Kouns)
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven S. Giordano speaks with Sailors from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Jan. 10, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Alex Kouns)

The master chief petty officer of the Navy is taking heat after allegations surfaced he was verbally abusive to subordinates and created a hostile work environment by taking advantage of his authority.

The allegations focus on Master Chief Petty Officer Steven Giordano, who became the service's top enlisted sailor in September 2016. In the position, he serves as the top enlisted adviser to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and plays a key role in setting policy for enlisted troops and their families.

The Navy Inspector General's Office is investigating the complaints, a spokesman for Richardson confirmed to Military.com.

"The Navy takes all allegations of misconduct seriously. The Navy is conducting an investigation into this matter," Capt. Darryn James said in a statement. "As in all investigations, we will safeguard the rights of any complainant and protect the procedural rights of all parties."

The existence of the investigation first came to light Friday in a lengthy report from Navy Times.

The report highlighted complaints from a former subordinate who said Giordano had a "horrific and unpredictable temper" and answering to him "was like working for a pop star or Hollywood diva."

Navy Times reported that many sailors assigned to Giordano's office had left prior to their scheduled departure dates, either of their own accord or after being "fired" by the MCPON.

In one example of what multiple anonymous witnesses described to the publication as an obsession with preferential treatment, Giordano allegedly made an effort to petition Navy brass to issue him official dinner china and his own private chef, privileges typically reserved for three-star admirals and above. Others alleged he pushed for his own enlisted aide to perform duties such as carrying his bag and doing administrative work.

A spokesman for Giordano's office said he could not address any allegations.

The cloud of scrutiny could end up cutting short Giordano's term as top enlisted leader. While the last two MCPONs served four-year terms, the position must be reviewed for extension at the two-year mark, which comes up in September, according to the report.

Giordano enlisted in June 1989 and previously served as fleet master chief for U.S. Naval Forces Europe/U.S Naval Forces Africa, according to his official biography.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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