Japan-based Destroyer CO Removed from Command

August 21, 2023 2:06 PM
USS Howard (DDG-83) transits the Philippine Sea during Pacific Vanguard 23, July 4, 2023. US Navy Photo

The commander of Japan-based guided-missile destroyer USS Howard (DDG-83) was removed from command Saturday, Navy officials told USNI News.

U.S. 7th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Karl Thomas removed Cmdr. Kenji Igawa from command, “due to loss of confidence in his ability to command,” according to a service statement provided to USNI News.

Cmdr. Kenji Igawa on Dec. 1, 2022. US Navy Photo

“Capt. Edward Angelinas, former commanding officer of USS Robert Smalls (CG-62), will assume the duties as commanding officer until the permanent relief arrives. Cmdr. Igawa will be administratively reassigned to the staff of commander, U.S. 7th Fleet,” reads the statement from the service.

The relief was not due to misconduct but to performance issues, U.S. Naval Surface Force spokesman Cmdr. Arlo Abrahamson told USNI News. He said no other members of the command triad – the executive officer and senior enlisted sailor – were relieved.

Igawa, a 2004 U.S. Naval Academy Graduate, took command of Howard late last year, according to a now-deleted Navy release.

While assigned to destroyer USS Stethem (DDG-63) just after graduating, “he provided linguistics skills and cultural insight to his crew during operations with the Japanese Maritime Defense Force (JMSDF) while helping his fellow Yokosuka-based Sailors to better understand Japanese culture,” reads the June release.
“Later, Igawa would serve as the Japan Desk Chief, Strategy Plans and Policy Directorate for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Congressional Fellow before eventually taking command of the Yokosuka-based destroyer, USS Howard.”

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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