Navy Relieves USS Stout Skipper, Making at Least 4 CO Firings So Far This Year

The guided-missile destroyer USS Stout prepares to drydock.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Stout prepares to drydock at BAE Systems Ship Repair Norfolk, June 22, 2021. (U.S. Navy Photo by Hendrick L. Dickson).

The Navy has relieved the commanding officer of the Norfolk-based destroyer USS Stout, the service said Monday.

Cmdr. Jeffrey Applebaugh, the skipper of the Stout, was removed from his position on Friday due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command, according to a Navy press release. The decision was made by Capt. Blair Guy, the commodore of Destroyer Squadron 28.

The Navy said that Capt. Scott Rosetti will serve as the destroyer's commanding officer until permanent relief -- Cmdr. Desmond Walker -- is able to take command.

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Lt. Cmdr. David Carter, a spokesman for the commander of the Navy's Atlantic surface forces, told that he was not able to offer more detail on the firing but did note that "there are no additional ongoing investigations related to the relief."

On Saturday, the ship's Facebook page posted a message that bid farewell to Applebaugh and thanked him for "your dedication, your kindness, your professionalism, your compassion, your understanding, your commitment to the ship and its crew, and their safety and well-being, your knowledge, and your mentorship."

"Most of all, thank you for always putting the ship and the crew first," the post added.

Comments on the social media post included "a gentleman of pure class and professionalism" and "fearless leader," as well as "truly one of a kind."

The ship had most recently returned from a deployment in the fall of 2020 and then went into a maintenance period in summer 2021.

Cmdr. Jeffrey Applebaugh
Cmdr. Jeffrey Applebaugh (U.S. Navy photo)

Applebaugh took command of the Stout in October, according to the Navy. His official biography notes that he served as the Stout's second-in-command before becoming its commander. He also served aboard the cruisers Bunker Hill and Normandy, as well as the destroyer USS Gonzalez.

His decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various service and campaign awards. He graduated in 2005 from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy with a bachelor of science in marine transportation and also holds a 3rd mate's unlimited tonnage open ocean U.S. Coast Guard license.

Applebaugh is at least the fourth ship commander to be relieved this year by the Navy. Last month, it relieved the commander and executive officer of the destroyer USS John Finn and in January, the commanders of the destroyer USS Carney and the amphibious ship USS Mesa Verde were also fired.

Carter said that the Navy had not fired the Stout's executive officer or its top enlisted sailor -- the command master chief.

In contrast, at around this time last year, the Navy had publicly announced the relief or reassignment of at least 15 commanders, executive officers or command enlisted representatives.

The Navy's press release said that Applebaugh will be temporarily reassigned to the Naval Surface Forces Atlantic and asserted that the firing will have no impact to the ship's mission or schedule.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

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