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Navy relieves top officer from commanding

A top officer was relieved by U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.

Cmdr. Christopher Rankin, who commanded a EA-6B squadron aboard the Eisenhower, is under an internal investigation on unspecified charges, said Cmdr. Kevin Aandahl of the Bahrain-based U.S. 5th Fleet.

The Eisenhower is currently visiting a port in the Persian Gulf that Aandahl declined to name.

Rankin has been temporarily reassigned within the carrier group while the investigation is under way, Aandahl said.

The Navy gave no details on why Rankin's commander, Capt. Scott Stearney, lost confidence in his abilities. Stearney leads Carrier Air Wing 7, which includes Rankin's squadron.

"It's inappropriate to discuss the details because an investigation is ongoing. It's an internal situation," Aandahl said. "There could be a (criminal) charge. It's possible."

Aandahl said the loss of confidence in an ability to command could be triggered under a broad range of scenarios, from bad judgment to inappropriate conduct. For now, he said, Rankin will remain with the Eisenhower strike group, patrolling the Gulf and adjoining Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.