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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sub skipper at Pearl relieved of command

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Cmdr. Jeff Cima

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For the second time in less than six months, the captain of a Pearl Harbor-based submarine has been relieved of duty, usually a career-ending punishment.

Cmdr. Jeff Cima, who was in charge of the Los Angeles-class submarine USS Chicago, was removed from command Monday after he was found guilty of "drunkenness" and conduct unbecoming an officer during a visit last week to a Reserve Officers Training Corps program on the Mainland, the Navy said.

The disciplinary action was taken after Cima went through what's known as a captain's mast, an administrative review that does not entail a court-martial, officials said.

The drunkenness occurred at the Navy ROTC visit on March 10, said Lt. Cmdr. Dave Benham, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet submarine force.

Benham said he couldn't identify what ROTC program was involved for privacy reasons. Nor was he able to provide any details about Cima's alleged drunken behavior.

"Beyond the charges and the outcome of his relief, and the fact that the incident took place at an ROTC visit, I can't be more specific than that," Benham said.

Cima, who took command of the Chicago on Aug. 7, 2009, could not be reached for comment.

Cima was relieved of duty by Capt. Daryl Caudle of Submarine Squadron 3 and was assigned to the squadron's staff.

It's not unusual for the Navy to send commanding officers to naval ROTC programs to talk to college students when they are deciding what part of the Navy they want to enter, Benham said.

"Obviously, it's a very unfortunate incident, certainly, in this instance," Benham said.

Joel Kennedy, a retired submarine officer, commented on the disciplinary action on his blog at bubble heads.blogspot.com/.

"Obviously I don't know for sure what (Cima) did," Kennedy said, "but it always used to be that ROTC visits were a time where the (commanding officer) could blow off a little steam away from always having to be 'proper' in front of the crew."

In October, the commander of the Pearl Harbor submarine USS La Jolla was relieved of duty after leaders lost confidence in his ability to command, the Navy said at the time.

Cmdr. Doug Sampson had been in charge of the Los Angeles-class submarine since October of 2007.

Benham, the Pacific Fleet submarine force spokesman, said at the time that Sampson's removal involved "in-port planning, the operations and the administration (of the La Jolla), which fell short of the high Navy standards."

The 360-foot-long, 9,600-ton submarine was in the shipyard for maintenance at the time.