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Navy report: Skipper retreated to cabin for weeks

Associated Press

Publication: theday.com

Published August 07. 2014 12:35PM   Updated August 07. 2014 12:36PM

San Diego (AP) — A Navy investigation finds the ailing skipper of a San Diego-based Navy cruiser retreated to his cabin for several weeks in the middle of a deployment, leaving the 330-member crew leaderless.

U-T San Diego reports the probe also revealed that the skipper of the USS Cowpens, Capt. Gregory W. Gombert, was having an improper and "unduly familiar" relationship with the cruiser's acting executive officer.

The Navy removed Gombert and the ship's command master chief, Master Chief Petty Officer Gabriel J. Keeton, from their positions on June 10. The reason given at the time was poor ship condition.

Investigators say Gombert's medical problems — which weren't disclosed — shouldn't have left him unable to lead. They also shouldn't have required him to retreat to his cabin from early January through March.

The newspaper reports Gombert couldn't be reached Wednesday through a Navy spokesman.

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