Fired Navy Sub Skipper Was Arrested for Driving Drunk, third Commander Relieved After Alcohol Incident This 12 months

A lately fired Navy guided-missile submarine commander was arrested for driving with a blood alcohol content material thrice the authorized restrict lower than every week earlier than he was relieved of command, police information present.

Capt. Kurt Balagna, who till final week was the commanding officer of the united statesOhio sub’s gold crew, was arrested March 5 by Washington state police for driving with a blood alcohol content material of round 0.24%. The authorized restrict is 0.08%.

Balagna is the third commander the Navy has relieved this yr for driving below the affect. One other submarine commander was relieved in January and a Navy SEAL commodore was fired this week.

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Job and Goal was the primary outlet to report the small print of Balagna’s arrest.

A Navy spokesman informed that, regardless of the current spike in DUIs amongst its commanders, the service is just not involved that it signifies a rising downside or development.

As an alternative, the spokesman famous that “there is no such thing as a change to the U.S. Navy accountability coverage” and reiterated the same old assertion that the service’s commanders “are anticipated to uphold the best requirements of accountability, reliability and management, and the Navy holds them accountable once they fall in need of these requirements.”

Police information reviewed by present Balagna was driving on an interstate heading into downtown Seattle when he was pulled over by Washington state police for swerving out and in of his lane and onto the shoulder and, at one level, using the freeway’s rumble strip “for a few seconds” at round 12:30 p.m. March 5.

In accordance with the officer’s narrative within the arrest report, Balagna stated he was coming from the city the place he lived and heading to Seattle-Tacoma Worldwide Airport. Nevertheless, by the point he was pulled over, he had overshot the airport; he informed the police officer that “he was having some hassle discovering it.”

The police officer instantly seen indicators that the Navy officer was drunk. He famous in his narrative that Balagna’s face was flushed, there was “a robust odor of intoxicants,” and his speech was slurred.

After being requested to step out of the automotive, Balagna “admitted to ingesting vodka, stating that he began ingesting round 8:00 that morning,” the report stated.

Then, after Balagna failed some subject sobriety exams, the police officer requested him “if he thought he needs to be driving proper now.”

“He regarded down and shook his head and stated ‘no,'” the report stated.

Balagna was arrested, and jail information present he was booked on a single DUI cost and spent about eight hours within the King County jail earlier than being launched minutes earlier than midnight on March 5. was not in a position to attain Balagna for remark by telephone.

In the intervening time, it seems that the Navy has fired 5 commanding officers, together with Balagna, in 2024. Navy officers have beforehand stated the service relieved 15 commanding officers in 2023.

The Navy sometimes doesn’t supply many particulars about why it relieves its commanding officers, and its press releases lean on the boilerplate response of “lack of confidence” as the explanation for firings. Nevertheless, officers will often affirm incidents like arrests as related to a aid if found by reporters.

Balagna is the third commanding officer in 2024 to have been revealed by press reviews as going through DUI expenses. Whereas the Navy spokesman who spoke with stated the current spate of drunk driving expenses is just not being seen as atypical, it’s difficult to independently assess that declare, given the present insurance policies in place.

Extra particulars will not be recognized in regards to the different submarine commander who was relieved over a drunk driving cost this yr, however the Navy SEAL captain and Navy Particular Warfare Group Eight commodore’s court docket information counsel his blood alcohol was round double the authorized restrict on the time of his arrest.

Within the absence of particulars, firings turn into a form Rorschach take a look at — permitting them to be pressed into service as proof for the whole lot from political strain on the navy that shortly begins to verge on the conspiratorial to critiques of the Navy’s excessive requirements for its commanders.

Additionally they result in rampant hypothesis, and even these related to the navy say the coverage of not providing particulars results in a lack of confidence within the management of the branches.

Navy officers from a wide range of providers have informed in conversations that they usually should steadiness components like doable ongoing investigations, a fired commander’s proper to privateness, and a public’s proper to know of their calculations about what to reveal and when.

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