Destroyer Commander Fired After Navy Loses Confidence in His Ability to Lead

Cmdr. Bob Bowen. (U.S. Navy)
Cmdr. Bob Bowen. (U.S. Navy)

The skipper of a Navy guided-missile destroyer that returned from a busy deployment less than a year ago has been relieved of his post.

Cmdr. Bob Bowen, commanding officer of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Decatur, was fired Thursday "due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command," U.S. Third Fleet officials said in a release.

Bowen, who took command of the Decatur in May 2018, was relieved by Capt. Dan Cobian, commander of Destroyer Squadron 21.

According to the release, Cmdr. Jerry Jackson, who previously commanded the Destroyer Sampson, has assumed command of the ship until the planned fleet-up of Cmdr. Derek Rader, Decatur's executive officer. Bowen, officials said, will be temporarily reassigned to a command at Decatur's homeport of San Diego.

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Officials did not immediately provide more information about what prompted Bowen's firing. The Decatur completed its last deployment, to the Pacific, in April 2019. During that deployment, the ship participated in a rescue of fishermen in waters off Sri Lanka.

The ship also made headlines in October 2018, when it had a frightening near-miss with a Chinese destroyer, which reportedly came within 45 yards of the Decatur while making what the Navy described as "aggressive maneuvers."

A Navy official told that that incident had nothing to do with the relief. Bowen's firing was also not due to personal misconduct, the official said.

A command investigation was completed in mid-December ahead of Bowen's relief, according to Cmdr. John Fage, a spokesman for U.S. 3rd Fleet.

Bowen, a native of Jacksonville, North Carolina, is a graduate of the Naval War College who has previously served on the Joint Staff and on the staff of Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, according to his official biography.

His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal (two awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (six awards), and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (four awards).

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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