Navy Fires Commander of USS Howard — Just 6 Months After Relieving Predecessor for Soft Grounding

by Braxton Taylor

The Navy has fired the commanding officer of the Japan-based destroyer USS Howard who has been at the post less than six months and came after another fired commander.

The Navy “relieved the commanding officer of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Howard, Cmdr. Cameron Dennis, Feb. 6, 2024, due to a loss of confidence in his ability to perform his duties,” the Navy said in its statement Tuesday.

The statement added that Capt. Dave Huljack will be assigned as commanding officer until a permanent relief is identified.

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The Navy’s statement did not offer any more information about why Dennis was removed from leadership, outside of the boilerplate “loss of confidence” remark.

Dennis appears to be the second Navy commander relieved this year. Navy officials have said that in 2023 the service relieved 15 commanding officers.

The officer, who according to his service biography, began his Navy career as an undesignated sailor in 1993 before commissioning in 2006, took over commanding the Howard in September after the Navy relieved his predecessor — Cmdr. Kenji Igawa — in August.

Igawa himself had been at the post only about eight months before he was abruptly relieved.

A Navy official confirmed to Military.com that Igawa was relieved over a “soft grounding” incident that the USS Howard experienced on Aug. 10 as the ship was pulling into Bali, Indonesia, for a port visit.

Military.com reached out to the Navy for more details on Dennis’ firing but did not immediately receive a reply.

Dennis previously served as the executive officer of the destroyer USS Higgins as well as the chief engineer onboard the mine countermeasures ship USS Gladiator.

According to the Navy biography dated September 2021, Dennis also served on the staff of the Commander, Naval Forces Europe, in Naples, Italy, as the maritime fires chief — a position in which he managed target lists and helped plan Tomahawk cruise missile strikes, among other duties.

The Navy’s statement said that Dennis will be reassigned to the U.S. 7th Fleet staff and that “there is no impact to the ship’s mission or schedule.”

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