CO of Growler Squadron Deployed on USS Carl Vinson Removed from Command

December 22, 2023 8:37 AM - Updated: December 22, 2023 10:46 AM
An EA-18G Growler, assigned to the ‘Gauntlets’ of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136, launches from the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Dec. 4, 2023. US Navy Photo

The commander of an electronic attack squadron deployed aboard aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) in the Western Pacific was removed from command, U.S. 7th Fleet announced late Thursday.

Cmdr. William Coulter was removed from command of the “Gauntlets” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136 by the commander of Carrier Strike Group One Rear Adm. Carlos Sardiello, “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command,” according to the statement.

Cmdr. William Coulter

“Cmdr. Coulter served as the VAQ-136 commanding officer since Jan. 2023. Cmdr. Paul Ritter was scheduled to assume duties as the commanding officer in April 2024 and will take this assignment effective immediately,” reads the statement.
“Coulter will be temporarily reassigned to VAQ Wing Pacific.”

The removal of Coulter followed the completion of an investigation into the command climate of the squadron, a service official told USNI News. Follow-on actions from the investigation are pending, USNI News understands.

The Gauntlets, based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., fly EA-18G Growlers, a variant of the F/A-18F Super Hornet modified for electronic attack missions. The squadron deployed in October as part of Carrier Air Wing 2 embarked aboard Vinson.

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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