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USS Anchorage Top Officers Fired After 'Engineering Incident'

Capt. Jeffrey Craig (Navy Photo)
Capt. Jeffrey Craig (Navy Photo)

The commanding officer and executive officer of the amphibious transport dock Anchorage were relieved of their duties Tuesday in the wake of an investigation into damage the ship sustained when it returned to its San Diego homeport in March following training at sea.

Naval Surface Force Commander Vice Adm. Tom Rowden relieved Capt. Jeffrey Craig and Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Johnson, citing a "loss of confidence in their ability to effectively lead and carry out assigned duties," according to a statement provided by Naval Surface Force Pacific. Navy Times was first to report on the reliefs Tuesday night.

Rowden lost confidence in the officers after being briefed on the results of an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the 'engineering incident' that damaged the Anchorage, the announcement said.

A spokesman for the force, Cmdr. John Perkins, declined to provide any information about the nature of the incident or the damage sustained by the Anchorage. The San Diego Tribune reported that maintenance problems were found in the ship's propulsion system, though no damage was sustained to the ship itself.

Craig had taken command of the Anchorage in December, replacing Capt. J. J. Cummings. Johnson had been with the ship since July. Both officers have been temporarily reassigned: Craig to Naval Air Forces Pacific, and Johnson to Expeditionary Strike Group 3.

A career aviator, Craig received his wings in 1995, serving first on Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 139, an EA-6B Prowler squadron. He has served as the executive officer and commanding officer of VAQ-132, leading the first operational deployment of an EA-18G Growler squadron, supporting operations in Iraq. He would later lead that squadron's first combat mission into Libya, according to his official biography.

Craig would go on to command VAQ-129. In 2014, he was assigned to the carrier Theodore Roosevelt as executive officer, completing a deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition mission to destroy the Islamic State.

His awards include the Air Medal with Combat "V," Strike Flight Air Medal, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, according to the biography.

The Anchorage is the seventh of 12 San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks, and was commissioned in May 2013. Capt. Tom Workman has been temporarily assigned as commanding officer of the ship, according to the Navy release, and Cmdr. Brian Bethea has taken over duties of executive officer. Officials plan to identify permanent reliefs for both positions in the near future.

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

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