Navy Destroyer XO Fired Due to Loss of Confidence in His Leadership

Cmdr. Blandino Alvin Villanueva was relieved of his duties as executive officer of the USS Decatur on Aug. 15, 2018. (U.S. Navy Photo)
Cmdr. Blandino Alvin Villanueva was relieved of his duties as executive officer of the USS Decatur on Aug. 15, 2018. (U.S. Navy Photo)

The second-in-command of the Navy's guided-missile destroyer Decatur was fired last week following a loss of confidence in his ability to lead.

Cmdr. Blandino Alvin Villanueva was relieved of his duties as executive officer Aug. 15 by Rear Adm. Michael Wettlaufer, commander of Carrier Strike Group 3, according to a Navy statement. Villanueva had been executive officer of the Decatur since February.

"The relief is not tied to one specific event," Lt. Andrew DeGarmo, a spokesman for Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, told Military.com.

No additional details about Wettlaufer's decision were immediately available. News of Villanueva's relief was first reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Lt. Cmdr. Molly Lawton, a department head serving aboard the Decatur, has assumed temporary duties as executive officer. Villanueva has been temporarily reassigned to the commander's staff at Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Villanueva was commissioned in 1998 after graduating from San Diego State University. He has served as executive officer of the guided-missile destroyer Gridley and in the aviation department for the commander of Naval Surface Forces Pacific.

He has deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, according to his official bio.

Lawton, the Decatur's acting XO, earned her commission in 2003. She previously served as the weapons officer, combat systems officer and senior watch officer aboard the Decatur.

--Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ginaaharkins.

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