Navy captain relieved of duty

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SAN DIEGO – The Navy announced Tuesday that the commanding officer of San Diego-based USS Lake Erie was relieved of his duties due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.

While Naval officials said the decision was based on the findings of an investigation into poor command climate aboard the guided-missile cruiser, they did not elaborate because the investigation has not been completed.

Capt. John Banigan was removed from his position by Rear Adm. Dee Mewbourne, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 11.

Banigan, who assumed command of the ship in May 2013, has been temporarily assigned to the staff of the commander of Pacific Fleet surface forces, according to the Navy.

The Navy said Capt. Douglas Kunzman, deputy commander of Destroyer Squadron 9, will temporarily assume command of Lake Erie pending assignment of a permanent commanding officer.

The 567-foot-long Lake Erie and its crew of 400 transferred last year from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to San Diego and underwent an overhaul. It’s named for a War of 1812 naval battle that became famous for the motto, “Don’t give up the ship!”

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