USS Howard Suffered ‘Soft Grounding’ Near Bali Ahead of CO Removal

August 22, 2023 6:37 PM
USS Howard (DDG-83) conducts small boat operations off the Japanese coast on Jan. 24, 2023. US Navy Photo

A Japan-based guided-missile destroyer made a “soft-grounding,” near the Indonesian island of Bali ahead of a port visit on Aug. 10, USNI News has learned.
USS Howard (DDG-83) was heading to the island for a port visit when the destroyer grounded, Navy spokesperson Cmdr. Megan Greene said in a statement.

“On the morning of Aug. 10, USS Howard (DDG-83) experienced an apparent soft grounding shortly before arriving in Bali, Indonesia for a scheduled port visit. Upon indication of potential grounding, watchstanders took immediate action to protect the crew and the ship,” reads the statement to USNI News.
“The ship was able to return to normal operations under its own power and propulsion. There were no injuries as a result of the mishap. The circumstances surrounding the mishap are currently under investigation.”

Cmdr. Kenji Igawa, incoming commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Howard (DDG-83), receives his commanding officer’s pin from Capt. Walter Mainor, commander, Task Force 71, during a change of command ceremony aboard the ship on Dec. 1, 2022. US NAvy Photo

“Soft groundings” are defined as a ship’s hull hitting bottom but can free itself without additional outside assistance or much damage. Navy Times first reported the grounding.

Howard’s commander, Cmdr. Kenji Igawa was removed from command by 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, “due to loss of confidence in his ability to command,” according to a service statement provided to USNI News. No other members of the command triad – the executive officer and senior enlisted sailor – were relieved.

Igawa, a 2004 Naval Academy graduate, had been the commander of Howard since December after serving as the destroyer’s executive officer.

While assigned to destroyer USS Stethem (DDG-63) just after graduating from the Naval Academy, “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 a June news story from the Navy.
“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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