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U.S. Navy Cruiser CO Relieved Amidst NCIS Investigation

USS Normandy
USS Normandy (USN file image)

Published Nov 9, 2022 5:25 PM by The Maritime Executive

The CO of the cruiser USS Normandy has been relieved of duty and transferred off his ship in the middle of a North Atlantic deployment, the U.S. Navy said in a brief statement Tuesday. 

Capt. Simon McKeon, the commanding officer of Normandy, had served in the post since March 2022. He has been temporarily reassigned to duty with the staff of Naval Surface Force Atlantic, a typical temporary measure for officers who have been removed from command. 

An official quietly told USNI News that allegations of personal misconduct prompted McKeon's removal. Separately, a spokeswoman for 2nd Fleet told Navy Times that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) has opened an investigation. 

McKeon is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and holds masters' degrees from Kings College and the National War College. He previously served aboard the cruiser USS Anzio, the Perry-class frigate USS Doyle, and the destroyers USS Decatur and USS Curtis Wilbur. He is a recipient of the Defense Meritorious Service medal, among other commendations.

McKeon has been replaced by Capt. Gary Chase, commanding officer of the cruiser USS Vicksburg, until the appointment of a permanent successor. 

USS Normandy is a Ticonderoga-class cruiser commissioned in 1989 and slated for decommissioning in 2025. She is currently operating in the North Atlantic as an escort for the carrier USS Gerald R. Ford's first deployment. The Navy said that there would be no disruption to Normandy's operations due to the change in command.

The Ford Carrier Strike Group is currently operating as part of a large flotilla with vessels from multiple NATO-allied navies, including warships from Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany. Ford is expected to call in Portsmouth, UK by the middle of the month, bringing additional air power to the European theater.

The deployment is Ford's first, and it is a restricted trial run. She is still under the direct command of the Navy, not the regional combatant commander, and earlier reporting suggests that she may be operating with a reduced airwing. She is not carrying the F-35C stealth fighter, as she was delivered without the capability to operate it and will not be retrofitted until 2025.