SAN DIEGO - A former commanding officer of the famed Blue Angels aerial demonstration team was relieved of duty amid allegations of "lewd speech, inappropriate comments, and sexually explicit humor" and pornography, the Navy says.
Last week the Navy announced that Capt. Gregory McWherter had been relieved of duty as executive officer of Naval Base Coronado in San Diego because of initial findings of an investigation into misconduct during his tours as commander and flight leader of the Blue Angels.
In making that announcement, the Navy provided no explanation of the misconduct except that it made for an "inappropriate command climate" at the Blue Angels, based at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla.
On Wednesday, the Navy provided details in response to a Washington Post article.
McWherter allowed "and in some cases encouraged" the sexually inappropriate misconduct in the workplace, according to Wednesday's Navy statement.
The actions may have violated the Navy's "sexual harassment, hazing and equal opportunity policies," the service said.
According to the Post, an internal military document was inadvertently e-mailed by a Navy official to a Post editor. The document states that a former member of the Blue Angels filed a complaint last month accusing McWherter of promoting a hostile work environment and tolerating sexual harassment. The complaint described an atmosphere rife with sexually explicit speech, the open display of pornography, and jokes about sexual orientation, the Post said.
McWherter is the latest in a string of senior military commanders to come under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct or other misbehavior. Congress and the White House have grown especially frustrated at the Pentagon's struggles to police sex crimes and harassment in the ranks.
McWherter, who has been temporarily reassigned, did not respond to e-mails from the Post and the Associated Press.
The decision to relieve him was made by Vice Adm. William French, commander of Navy Installation Command.
McWherter served as commanding officer of the Blue Angels from November 2008 to November 2010, and then from May 2011 to November 2012.
An F/A-18 Hornet pilot, he has logged 5,500 flight hours and 950 aircraft carrier landings during training missions and deployments to the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf, and the western Pacific.
The Blue Angels perform daring maneuvers at air shows and before large crowds at other events. It is a major honor for pilots selected to join; the Navy treats the squadron as a valuable recruitment tool and a symbol of its aviation firepower.
The commander of the unit is chosen by a panel of admirals and serves as the Blue Angels' lead pilot.