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Maple commander removed for “poor command climate”

The Sitka-based Coast Guard cutter Maple. The Maple's commanding officer was removed on Oct. 1.

The Sitka-based Coast Guard cutter Maple. The Maple’s commanding officer was removed on Oct. 1.

The commander of the Sitka-based Coast Guard cutter Maple has been temporarily removed from command after officials received reports of problems on board.

Lt. Commander Fred Seaton had held the top slot on the Maple since June of 2012. On September 20, the Coast Guard opened an investigation after receiving reports of a “poor command climate” on the cutter, said Coast Guard spokesman Kip Wadlow. That investigation is still underway, but preliminary results prompted the district commander, Rear Admiral Thomas Ostebo, to temporarily relieve Seaton of his command, as of October 1. Seaton has been reassigned to Air Station Sitka for the length of the investigation.

Wadlow said policy prohibits him from discussing details before the investigation is complete. But he said Seaton was relieved of command because of a “lack of confidence.”

“It appears that the commanding officer of the Maple was acting in a manner that’s not consistent with the standard of conduct that’s expected of Coast Guard leaders,” Wadlow said. “Coast Guard commanders are placed in a position of high authority, and they are expected to create a positive command climate where people can come to work and they can grow professionally and they have a safe working environment.”

Lieutenant Raymond Reichl has taken over as the Maple’s temporary commanding officer. Reichl was formerly second in command, as the cutter’s executive officer.

The Maple is a 225-foot buoy tender, one of two such ships in Southeast Alaska, which maintain buoys and other navigational aids in the region between Juneau and Ketchikan. It has a crew of about fifty people.

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