Top warship commander relieved of command

In December 2012, Captain Brown reported to USS BOXER (LHD 4) as the ship’s Executive Officer. Photo Credit: U.S. Navy

SAN DIEGO — The captain of one of the Navy’s premier warships has been relieved of command after an investigation found that he routinely used foul and abusive language toward crew members and engaged in inappropriate touching and questioning of women.

Capt. Wayne Brown was relieved as commander of the San Diego-based amphibious assault ship Boxer after an investigation concluded that he had “lost the respect, trust and confidence of his subordinates” because of his temper and his behavior toward female crew members, according to the investigative report. His behavior included touching and asking crew members whether they were using birth control.

Brown created a “hostile, offensive and intimidating work environment,” according to the investigation, which followed complaints from enlisted personnel and junior officers.

The recommendation to relieve him of command was endorsed by Rear Adm. Frank Ponds in late September.

Brown was reassigned to a desk job in San Diego.

A heavily redacted copy of the investigative report was provided last week to the Los Angeles Times through a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Brown joined the Navy as an enlisted sailor in 1986 and became an officer in 1989.

The Boxer is designed to take combat Marines and heavy equipment to war zones. It deployed in support of the U.S. war in Iraq in 2003, 2004 and 2007.

Brown was executive officer on the Boxer before becoming the commanding officer in June. He is the 12th commanding officer of a Navy ship to be relieved this year, according to the Navy Times.

The investigative report cites a sailor — whose name and rank are redacted — as saying “Capt. Brown’s leadership style is caustic and intimidating and is something he would consider ‘old school’ or from the ’80s.”

The report includes allegations that Brown put his hand on the back and hip of female sailors. Some incidents occurred aboard ship, and others while the crew was on liberty in Bahrain and Subic Bay, Philippines.

Brown was concerned about female sailors and junior officers using birth control because the ship had lost several crew members because they became pregnant and could not deploy, the report says.

But the women were unnerved by the questioning and thought it was inappropriate, according to the report.

Another incident involved Brown’s alleged outburst after finding that a dance class and an academic-skills class were scheduled aboard ship at the same time. He did not want to reschedule the dance class because he attended the class, the report says.

The report concluded that Brown had violated Navy regulations against sexual harassment and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

By Tony Perry (LA Times)

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