Navy Commander Who Headed East Coast Maintenance Center Is Fired After Loss of Confidence

by Braxton Taylor

The Navy has relieved the commander of its Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic in Virginia Beach, according to a statement released late Wednesday night.

Capt. Paul Choate was relieved of command Aug. 31 by Rear Adm. Joseph Hornbuckle “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command,” the statement said.

Choate has become at least the seventh Navy commander to be removed from command this year.

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The Navy’s statement did not offer any more information about why Choate was removed from leadership, outside of the usual remark that the service expects its commanders “to uphold the highest standards of responsibility, reliability and leadership, and the Navy holds them accountable when they fall short of those standards.”

The command Choate ran is responsible for “off-flight line repair and overhaul of engines, components and airframes” of many of the aircraft in the Navy’s inventory, as well as aviation-related equipment on ships, according to its website.

The command’s executive officer, Capt. Richard Foster, who was already scheduled to take command in December, has taken over running the center while Choate has been reassigned to the headquarters of the commander for Fleet Readiness Centers, the statement added.

According to his Navy biography, Choate, who was born in Saigon, Vietnam, enlisted in the Navy in 1986 and commissioned in 1996.

He served with several squadrons and aboard the USS John C. Stennis, USS Makin Island and USS Carl Vinson. According to the biography, he also deployed to Iraq to serve as an improvised explosive device technical officer with the Army.

His awards include the Bronze Star, four awards of the Meritorious Service Medal, six awards of the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and two awards of the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, among “numerous campaign, unit and service awards.”

His relief comes just weeks after the Navy removed the commanding officer of the Japan-based destroyer USS Howard.

The Navy has also fired the commanders of the Carney, John Finn and Stout — all destroyers — as well as the Mesa Verde, an amphibious transport dock, this year.

In July, the service also fired the commanding officer of an Oregon-based Navy Reserve unit. Navy Times reported that he had been recently arrested and charged on allegations that he choked his mother and stepfather in Georgia.

— Konstantin Toropin can be reached at konstantin.toropin@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

Related: Navy Relieves Skipper of Japan-Based Destroyer USS Howard

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