NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Capt. Paul Esposito, commander, Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic (HSCWINGLANT), relieved Cmdr. Sara Santoski, commanding officer of the Norfolk-based Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) Fifteen, today due to loss of confidence in Santoski's ability to command.
The relief occurred in the course of an on-going assessment of the squadron following the July 19, 2012, crash of an MH-53E Sea Stallion in Oman that resulted in the death of two sailors, and another mishap involving an MH-53E in August at Bahrain International Airport. Santoski has been temporarily reassigned to the staff of Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic in Norfolk.
Master Chief Petty Officer Bobby T. Anderson was also relieved of his duties as the squadron's command master chief due to unsatisfactory performance.
Initial findings from the assessment show that Cmdr. Santoski failed to strictly enforce appropriate operational, maintenance and safety standards and that she failed to ensure a proper command climate.
Capt. Todd Flannery, deputy commander, HSCWINGLANT, will serve as interim commanding officer until a permanent relief is identified. Master Chief Petty Officer Niela Jackson, command master chief, HSCWINGLANT, has been assigned as interim command master chief until a permanent relief is identified.
HM-15 is homeported in Norfolk, VA.
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