View Full Version : Complaints About Female 'Captain Bligh' Began Early, Says a Navy Chaplain

03-06-2010, 10:23 PM
Navy Cmdr. Maurice "Mo" Kaprow was stunned to watch then-Cmdr. Holly Graf in action. He saw her for the first time after arriving aboard her ship, the destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill, in Italy just before the Iraq war began in 2003. A Jewish rabbi and a Navy chaplain, he'd been sent to the Churchill on temporary assignment as the vessel readied for war. Usually pulling out of port is a methodical and precise process. "But I never in my life saw such chaos as there was on that bridge Holly Graf began yelling and screaming rudder orders, engine orders, insulting people," Kaprow recalled Friday. "I'd never seen anything like this."

It got more bizarre as the ship pulled out of Sicily's Augusta harbor. "Just after clearing the breakwater the ship began to rumble and shake now she's screaming even louder because nobody knows what's happening," Kaprow recalls. "I begin to hear young sailors' voices from the fantail and they're singing, `Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead.'" Kaprow remembers being perplexed at the sudden song. "Then someone came up to me and said, `We've ran aground. She's finished" assuming the accident would mean the end of their commander's career. "They were jumping for joy and singing on the fantail." Actually, one of the ship's props had broken, but the crew's reaction still amazes Kaprow. "I was flabbergasted." (See the top 10 crime stories of 2009.)

Kaprow left the Navy last month after a 20-year career and visits to some 200 ships. Morale aboard the Churchill was the worst he says he ever saw even on the eve of war with Saddam Hussein, where the Churchill launched Tomahawk missiles from the eastern Mediterranean toward Iraq. "I think the lady is mentally unbalanced," Kaprow says. "I don't believe she ever should have had command." (See more about the rise and fall of Holly Graf.)

The Navy removed Graf from command of the guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens in January for "cruelty and maltreatment" of her crew. But Kaprow's account makes clear that such conduct also occurred on the first ship Graf commanded. His tale is noteworthy because, unlike most others who witnessed Graf in command, Kaprow was an independent Navy outsider not subject to Graf's orders. Questions continue to swirl about how Graf not only retained her command, but kept getting promoted despite reports from eyewitnesses like Kaprow. Graf has declined interview requests, and there has been scant support offered for Graf by Navy colleagues on naval blogs or elsewhere. One admiral expressed concern Friday over what he called a "lynch mob" mentality about the case, as even conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh weighed in: "This woman sounds like a real Cruella de Vil."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1970226,00.html#ixzz0hSBAwLbW


03-06-2010, 10:24 PM
Captain Holly Graf and the U.S.S. Cowpens U.S. Navy
The Rise and Fall of a Female Captain Bligh

Women are so common in the upper ranks of the U.S. military these days that it's no longer news when they break through another barrier. Unfortunately, the latest benchmark isn't one to brag about: being booted as captain of a billion-dollar warship for "cruelty and maltreatment" of her 400-member crew. According to the Navy inspector general's report that triggered her removal and the accounts of officers who served with her Captain Holly Graf was the closest thing the U.S. Navy had to a female Captain Bligh.

A Navy admiral stripped Graf of her command of the Japan-based guided missile cruiser U.S.S. Cowpens in January. The just-released IG report concludes that Graf "repeatedly verbally abused her crew and committed assault" and accuses her of using her position as commander of the Cowpens "for personal gain." But old Navy hands tell TIME that those charges, substantiated in the IG report, came about because of the poisonous atmosphere she created aboard her ship. (See the best pictures of 2009.)

The case has attracted wide notice inside the Navy and on Navy blogs, where her removal has generated cheers from those who had served with her since she graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985. While many denounced Graf, even greater anger seems directed at the Navy brass for promoting such an officer to positions of ever-increasing responsibility. Graf declined an interview request.

While in command at sea where a captain's word is law and she or he has the power to make or break careers Graf swore like, well, a sailor. She "creates an environment of fear and hostility [and] frequently humiliates and belittles watch standers by screaming at them with profanities in front of the Combat Information Center and bridge-watch teams," a crew member told the IG. According to 29 of the 36 crew members who were questioned for the Navy's report, Graf repeatedly dropped F bombs on them. "Take your goddam attitude and shove it up your f______ ass and leave it there," she allegedly told an officer during a stressful maneuver aboard the 567-ft., 10,000-ton vessel. (See the top 10 scandals of 2009.)

Junior officers seeking her guidance were rebuffed. "This is one of the reasons I hate you," she allegedly told one who was seeking her help. When another officer visited her quarters to discuss an earlier heated discussion, her response was terse: "Get the f___ out of my stateroom." She allegedly told a male officer, "The only words I want to hear out of your mouth are 'Yes ma'am' or 'You're correct, ma'am.' " She also allegedly put a "well-respected master chief" in "time out" standing in the ship's key control room doing nothing "in front of other watch standers of all ranks."

While most of the witness statements contained in the IG report didn't specify whether the person testifying was male or female, the IG asked at least two female officers whether they viewed Graf as a role model. A younger woman recalled going to Graf to seek her help. " 'Don't come to me with your problems,' " she said, quoting Graf. " 'You're a f______ department head.' " The officer also said that Graf once told her, "I can't express how mad you make me without getting violent."

A second female officer told the IG that Graf was a "terrible role model for women in the Navy," alleging that Graf once told her and a fellow officer on the bridge, "You two are f______ unbelievable. I would fire you if I could, but I can't."


03-07-2010, 01:49 AM
Shannon how could you let her out only half trained? ;)