Navy Fires Destroyer Captain, 7th Senior Officer Relieved in Last Month

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The Navy fired the captain of the USS Preble, Cmdr. Peter Lesaca. US Navy photos.

The Navy fired the captain of an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Tuesday, the second time the service has removed the commanding officer of a destroyer in less than a week.

Overall, the Navy has relieved seven senior officers from command at major units since May 19.

Cmdr. Peter Lesaca, the commanding officer of the USS Preble, was fired Tuesday, June 14, by Capt. Patrick H. O’Mahoney, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 23, “due to loss of confidence in his ability to command,” the Navy said.

No other details were released regarding Lesaca’s removal.

USS Preble

The Navy fired the captain of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Preble, seen here in 2018. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Morgan K. Nall.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Preble in 2018. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Morgan K. Nall

Lesaca is the sixth senior officer removed from command in less than a month. On June 11, Cmdr. Devine Johnson and Command Master Chief Earl Sanders, the commanding officer and command master chief of the Arleigh Burke-class USS Bulkeley, were removed from their posts “due to a loss of confidence in their ability to effectively function as a command leadership team,” the Navy said in a statement.

The other officers fired in the last month include:


  • June 11 — Capt. Jeffry Sandin, commanding officer, Recruit Training Command.
  • June 8 — Cmdr. Matthew McCormick, commanding officer of Electronic Attack Squadron 137, which flies the EA-18G, an electronic warfare-focused version of the F/A-18.
  • May 31 — Capt. Amy Larson and Marine Lt. Col. Bret Swaim were removed as the commander and executive officer of Naval Justice School after an investigation into the “command climate” of the school. Neither officer, the Navy said, was involved in misconduct.
  • May 10 — Cmdr. Brett Johnson, the commanding officer of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28.
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An EA-18G Growler, assigned to the “Rooks” of Electronic Attack Squadron 137, flies over the USS Gerald R. Ford in 2019. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brigitte Johnston.

An EA-18G Growler, assigned to the “Rooks” of Electronic Attack Squadron 137, flies over USS Gerald R. Ford in 2019. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brigitte Johnston

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro also issued five letters of censure this week to Marine and Navy officers involved in a fatal assault amphibious vehicle sinking in 2020.

Lesaca was born in the Philippines and raised in San Diego. He assumed command of the San Diego-based Preble after serving as its executive officer from February 2020 to August 2021. His previous sea assignments include the USS Gonzales and USS Laboon as an anti-submarine warfare officer.

The Navy has 69 of the 500-foot Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, according to a Navy fact sheet, which carry a crew of about 330.

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Matt White is a senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a Pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism. He also teaches journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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