Two Navy officers relieved of command for response to hazing

Dec. 21, 2013 at 11:44 AM   |   0 comments

NORFOLK, Va., Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Two top officers of a U.S. Navy destroyer have been relieved of duty for their response to the hazing of female sailors, officials say.

The action against Cmdr. Kenneth Rice, executive officer of the USS Jason Dunham, and Master Chief Petty Officer Stephen Vandergrifft, the vessel's top warrant officer, was announced Friday, NBC News reported.

Officials said that on Oct. 15 a chief petty officer ordered 19 women to clean out two non-functioning toilets on the Dunham, which is based in Norfolk, Va. Thirteen of the women were told to march to the dock carrying buckets of human waste and to dump it in two portable toilets.

Lt. Cmdr. Reann Mommsen, a spokeswoman for U.S. Fleet Forces Command, said some of the women were not supplied with proper protective equipment for the job. She also said that the waste could have been disposed of on board the Dunham and ordering the women to walk it to the pier was hazing.

Cmdr. Michael Meredith, the Dunham's commanding officer, only learned of the incident on Oct. 21 and acted properly once he was told, officials say. Officials said the charges against Rice and Vandergrifft include failing to notify Meredith.

Rice and Vandergrifft were convicted in non-judicial proceedings, officials said. Others on board the Dunham faced lesser penalties.

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