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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Ship-racing Navy captain demoted

Navy Capt. Holly Graf (AP)

One of the Navy’s few female ship captains lost her command after investigations into abuse of her crew and using her guided missile destroyer to “drag race” another warship in the Pacific.

The Navy recently demoted Capt. Holly Graf, captain of the USS Cowpens, following a Navy inspector generals report found she used her ship to race the USS John S. McCain destroyer off the coast of Okinawa in February 2009.

The report, filed in December, could not prove any dangers from the race, but also found numerous incidents of “cruelty and maltreatment” of the crew of the Cowpens by Capt. Graf and accused her of conduct unbecoming an officer.

The Navy demoted Graf in January.

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14 thoughts on “Ship-racing Navy captain demoted”

  1. Hi Bill B,

    The ship’s named to commemorate the “Battle of Cowpens” , a Revolutionary War battle that took South Carolina from the British. Many people forget we were also waging a southern campaign against the Brits and that the war dragged on into the 1780’s. Actually the end of the war wasn’t until November 1782. A preliminary peace treaty was signed in January 1783 with France and Spain and April 14th the Governor of New Jersey issued a proclamation that ended the formal hostilities. The Brits were still in New York city and didn’t leave until November 23rd, 1783 with their remaining troops and Brit sympathizers that wished to leave America.

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. So the Navy assigned a female Captain of a ship named “Cowpens”? I guess someone at the Pentagon has a sense of humor.

  3. “I also did it on other occasions to intentionally pressurize the situation.”

    I once worked for a boss like that, intentionally making things more difficult for people. I even once asked him about it, and his reply was that yes, it was intentional, and his feeling was that he should pile much more work onto people than they could possibly do just to see how much they could get done and to “test attitudes toward their work”.

    I also worked for the US Navy at one time, and I can attest that the officer corps is trained to be as arrogant as possible. Most of them are insufferable. Some are nice guys and women in that they respected other people but they are the exception. I really don’t know why the Navy officer corps had a problem with this woman. Probably because it became public. Otherwise she surely would have been in line for the admiralty.

    • With reference to your final thoughts concerning her future you are most likely correct Kent.

      “Even though Graf comes from a Navy family — her sister and brother-in-law are both admirals, and her father was a captain — there appears to have been no “godfather” shielding her and greasing the skids for her promotion, Navy officers say. Prior to the IG probe’s release, the Navy had tapped Graf for a top job at the Pentagon following her Cowpens command. …extract from Times article

      The Admiralty looks upon the Navy as their personal “yacht club”… / : |

      Carl Nemo **==

    • Hi Tim,

      The race was called off due to fact the destroyer McCain leading in the race was drifting towards the cruiser Cowpens. So it seems the USS John S. McCain had the lead and possibly would have won, but if they had collided…ouch in terms of the consequences to both captains for hazarding and damaging U.S. Government property all for a morale boosting race.


      Among allegations not substantiated was one that she endangered the ship while allowing a drag-race between the Cowpens and the destroyer USS John S. McCain in February 2009.

      Four witnesses described the 2009 race off of Okinawa, but they differed on how close the two vessels came to each other before the race was halted.

      One sailor said that during the race, aimed at boosting morale, the McCain got ahead of the Cowpens and began drifting to the left into the path of the Cowpens. Though the report did not question that the race took place, it said the allegation of “hazarding a vessel” was unsubstantiated. …extract from web article


      Captain Graf was not relieved of command due to the racing incident, but her history of abusive, over the top, lack of leadership skills.

      Carl Nemo **==

  4. Hi Bill,

    My comments had nothing to do whether women are tough or not or can have “all oceans” certificates etc. Granted, Captain Graf is an exceptional case, but just the same I’ve never cared for their presence in high command positions other than “feelgood” ops and contrary to your experience have not been impressed.

    I’m retired from the USN, 30 years mostly in the submarine service. They’ve just opened the sub service to females too. Big mistake, but our new age kumbaya service brass don’t seem to get it until there’s a crisis. In passing, I’m not for an open policy concerning gays in the military either; feeling the current “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is best for all concerned.

    To me the U.S. military isn’t a place for social engineering and experimentation. Our entire nation is going down the tubes as a function of all this “new age”, everybody wins, let’s not point fingers, egalitarian nonsense. It’s a fact that women have a lot of hormonal issues which is part and parcel to their function for the replication of our species. I guess I’m really old fashioned concerning my opinions and values.

    We’re talking about the command of ships of war here and not the “good ship Lollypop”.

    I respect your opinions, but obviously we have differences.

    Carl Nemo **==

    • “They’ve just opened the sub service to females too.”

      Big BIG mistake. Infatuations, jealousies, close quarters, fights, dissension and pregnancies. The Navy will declare an outstanding success, medals and cash awards will be passed around. Bravo Zulu. And then the program will be quietly ended. Typical US Navy which always has a better idea. NAVSISA (a naval Command) has been attempting, without success, to implement an ERP design utilizing software provided by SAP (a German corporation, why not a US company, but thats another issue). They have spent well over a billion dollars so far and have been able to implement very little of their grandiose designs. Why? Because, while SAP states quite plainly and bluntly, that if their implementation specifications are not precisely followed, a project WILL (not “may”, not “might”, not even “probably”) FAIL. So far the Navy has been trying to make numerous modifications to SAP’s paradigm. And they just can NOT figure out why they are failing. Simple Naval Officer Arrogance. But try to tell them.

  5. Ahhhhhhh, a female Capt Queeg of the USS Caine. This is the pure example of justifiable femininity. Feminine pulchritude at its finest.

    I don’t agree with Carl Nemo. Women are tough, in reality, they are tougher than men. If you want proof show me one man who could take the pain of childbirth. There just isn’t anyone.

    I’m a Captain, retd, in the USMM. I’ve seen a lot of female sailors, some with “all oceans’ certificates. They were superb–calm, knowledgeable, and highly competent. I would have been proud to serve with them in any capacity.

    Don’t let one rotten woman spoil the bunch. This woman is exceptional in the worst possible way.

  6. “The report, filed in December, could not prove any [dangers from the race],”…?! extract from post my brackets

    “She would throw coffee cups at officers — ceramic, not foam,” he recalls, “spit in one officer’s face, throw binders and paperwork at people, slam doors.” …extract from Time article

    Read more:,8599,1969602,00.html?xid=rss-topstories

    Her vessel isn’t her personal property but that of the U.S. Government, therefore that of the U.S. taxpayer. If she isn’t following her sailing orders or engaged in training maneuvers she’s out of line, risking her crew and government property.

    It’s rare a four striper is busted, but in this case along with her bizarre bridge and operational antics it seems it needed to be done. Possibly she’s suffering from a brain chemistry imbalance or going through menopause although her behavior seems to go back a long way.

    I’m old school USN and don’t believe women belong on the bridge. If you go back far enough in naval history, women on a ship are considered bad luck period other than passengers on a cruise vessel. ; )

    Carl Nemo **==

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