Navy fires USS Ohio submarine commanding officer

The Navy has fired the captain of the USS Ohio guided missile submarine, service officials revealed.

Capt. Kurt D. Balagna was fired as commanding officer of the Ohio “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command,” the Navy said in a Wednesday statement.

“Navy commanding officers are held to high standards of personal and professional conduct. They are expected to uphold the highest standards of responsibility, reliability and leadership, and the Navy holds them accountable when they fall short of those standards,” officials added.

The statement did not say specifically why Balagna was fired Monday, and only notes that the Ohio’s prospective commanding officer, Capt. Andrew Cain, has taken over his role.

Instead, the service nearly always uses the phrase “loss of confidence” when announcing the reason for a commander’s firing, regardless of why they were let go.

As of Thursday, the Navy remained tight-lipped on the reason for Balagna’s dismissal.

An unidentified Navy official would only tell USNI News that his removal was related to conduct, not performance.

The Hill has reached out to the Navy for additional comment.

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The Navy has had a series of high-profile firings in the past year, including three so far in 2024.

In early February, the service announced the dismissal of Cmdr. Cameron Dennis, head of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Howard. The ship is tasked with deterring the Chinese military in the Indo-Pacific region.

And in mid-January, the service relieved from duty Capt. Geoffry Patterson, the commanding officer of the submarine Georgia’s blue crew. Patterson, who had held the role for less than a year, also was removed due to a “loss of confidence” in his ability to command.

Reports later emerged that Patterson was let go after an arrest for allegedly driving under the influence.

And in September, the Navy fired Cmdr. Michael Lyle, the commanding officer of the ballistic missile submarine Alabama, again for a “loss of confidence in his ability to command.”

Lyle was one of 16 commanding officers the Navy fired in 2023, including eight warship captains. Of the dismissals, 14 were “due to a loss of confidence” in their ability to command, and two were let go for medical issues unrelated to their performance, Task & Purpose reported.

Balagna, who was most recently dismissed, enlisted in the Navy in 1992 and last served as the executive officer for the attack submarine USS Virginia and the commanding officer of the attack submarine USS Annapolis, according to his official biography.

The Ohio, based in Bangor, Wash., and one of the Navy’s oldest and largest underwater vessels, is one of four submarines that could be used to carry Trident II D5 nuclear ballistic missiles but have been converted to use Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles.

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