Navy Fires Destroyer's Leadership as Ship Moves Homeport to Japan

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn arrives at Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kaleb J. Sarten)

The Navy confirmed Wednesday it has fired both of the top two officers from the missile destroyer USS John Finn, after first announcing the firing of the commander over the weekend.

Cmdr. Angela Gonzales, the commanding officer, and Cmdr. Jonathan Zang, the executive officer, were fired from the John Finn on May 19, according to a statement from Cmdr. Hayley Sims, a spokeswoman for the Navy's Seventh Fleet.

The firings were "due to a loss of confidence in their ability to fulfill their responsibilities in leading the ship" and were ordered by Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, the commander of Seventh Fleet.

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In her statement, Sims said that the Navy had conducted a command investigation and the findings led to Thomas' decision. The Navy initially announced only the firing of Gonzales in a press release posted online Saturday. Navy Times first reported Zang's ouster.

The firings come just over two months after the ship and its crew completed a homeport shift from San Diego to Yokosuka, Japan.

At the time, Gonzalez said that the ship was "excited for the opportunity to join 7th Fleet" and that the crew "trained diligently over the past few years in preparation for this transition."

When asked why the Navy didn't name both Gonzales and Zang in the public message released Saturday, a Navy spokesperson said that the service only "releases the names of commanding officers who have been relieved."

Cmdr. Jacqueline Pau, a spokeswoman for the Navy, told Navy Times that the service will only confirm firings of executive officers and command master chiefs when asked.

However, just in the last year, the Navy did announce the firing of the top two officers of its Naval Justice School in May and a destroyer commander and command master chief in June.

The Navy said that Cmdr. Matthew Hays has taken over for Gonzales as John Finn's commanding officer but did not offer any information on who would replace Zang.

In her statement, Sims said that "the removal of the commanding officer and executive officer is an administrative action," before adding that "it would be inappropriate to discuss possible future actions at this time."

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

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