FOLLOWUP — Navy denies USS Stennis group commander removed over Libya

By San Diego Union (

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SAN DIEGO — The Navy says that the abrupt removal of an admiral commanding a Mideast aircraft carrier group was not related to the Sept. 11 U.S. consulate attack in Libya, refuting Internet rumors in the week leading up to the U.S. presidential election.

Speculative reports have said that the head of the John C. Stennis carrier group wanted to send help during the deadly attack and disobeyed orders to stand down. One emailed to U-T San Diego was headlined “Obama Fires Top Admiral For Advocating Libyan Rescue?”

Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette, a San Diego native, was reassigned from his job atop the Stennis group pending the results of a Navy inspector general investigation, according to a Navy news statement Saturday.

Gaouette, 53, is a 1977 graduate of Point Loma (Calif.) High School. He also commanded the San Diego-based destroyer Oldendorf from 2001 to 2003.

The reason given for the investigation was allegations of “inappropriate leadership and judgment.” Officials have stressed that the accusations are not about personal misbehavior, such as drinking or sexual harassment.

On Wednesday, Rear Adm. John Kirby, chief of naval information at the Pentagon, called the speculation about the consulate flat wrong.

“Rumors of this having anything to do with Libya and the Benghazi attack are simply false and ridiculous,” Kirby said.

Research of the Stennis’ location indicates that the aircraft carrier was oceans away from the scene on Sept. 11.

Deploying four months early, the flattop left its home port of Bremerton, Wash., on Aug. 22 and headed south to pick up the San Diego-based cruiser Mobile Bay and two North Island Naval Air Station helicopter squadrons.


Last modified: November 02. 2012 12:44PM
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