NAVAL ACADEMY SUPERINTENDENT
“WALKS THE PLANK” AT ANNAPOLIS
“ARROGANT, AUTOCRATIC STYLE”
RUN-IN WITH MARINE SENTRY – LED TO
VICE-ADMIRAL RICHARD NAUGHTON’S
DOWNFALL – “THREE-STAR” ORDERED
TO SUBMIT RESIGNATION TO
CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS


In the 35 years since Vice Admiral Richard Naughton graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, the hard-driving taskmaster had achieved a “storybook” rise to superintendent of the institution where his distinguished military career began.

Naughton was well known in the Navy for “berating and humiliating subordinates,” according to one veteran officer, who spoke to MilitaryCorruption.com on condition of anonymity. “He is a man who delights in abusing anyone under him, bullying and intimidating, when tact and courtesy could accomplish the same mission with a minimum of fuss.”

Because of Naughton’s many “friends in high places,” his boorish behavior was overlooked and even chuckled at as a “privilege of rank,” sources said. But it was an embarrassing incident with a Marine sentry at the Academy that finally led to Naughton’s downfall.

“RUN-IN” WITH A SENTRY

On New Year’s night, a Navy inspector general’s report reveals that Naughton reacted angrily to a sentry’s request that he produce proper identification. The admiral was in civilian clothes at the time, and became outraged that the sentry would ask him to show his ID card.

In a move that he surely now regrets, Naughton grabbed the Marine’s arm (in front of witnesses) and let loose a torrent of verbal abuse. There is no indication that the admiral had been drinking that night. But “improper contact” with a sentry, no matter how much of a “big-shot” you may be, is seriously frowned upon by the Navy. It incensed ranking Marine officers, and an investigation was begun.

That emboldened several previously “cowed” officers and faculty members to “come forward” and detail instances of “bullying and browbeating” by Naughton at the academy.

When local television news reporters and writers for the Baltimore Sun got wind of the sentry incident, the top brass knew they had to “make a change.” Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Vern Clark, called Naughton in “on the carpet” and got his resignation on the spot.

NEWS OF THE INCIDENT LEAKS OUT

The disgraced superintendent had his defenders at Annapolis, however. Retired Commander Joseph V. Conway, an academy classmate of Naughton’s, said his pal was “just bringing corporate discipline to an institution notoriously slow to part with old ways.”

But that excuse was overshadowed by a long “litany of abuse.”

It was reveled, that as far back as ten years ago, when Naughton was skipper of the USS New Orleans, “his temper and domineering style often left subordinates emotionally bruised and demoralized,” people who worked with him over the years told the Baltimore SUN.

“Almost all of us on Naughton’s ship were regularly subjected to public beratings and humiliation by him,” said Dave Mathers, a retired lieutenant commander who served under Naughton on the New Orleans in the early 1990’s. “I don’t mind getting chewed out, but the way he did it was blasting you in front of everybody. He’d just chop you to pieces.”

“Some people think you can manage by intimidation,” one officer told the newspaper. “At some point, it just doesn’t work anymore.”

When faced with the IG report’s findings, the Navy had no choice but to dump Naughton.

A DAMNING REPORT BY THE I.G. OFFICE

In the report, it stated that Naughton “did bodily harm” to the sentry, although in the admiral’s statement, he claims he “did nothing wrong” and doesn’t “recall” having so much as “touched” the Marine enlisted man.
The language in the official investigation left no doubt as to the admiral’s misconduct.

It stated that on several official occasions, [Naughton] “embarrassed and humiliated subordinates through conduct that is inappropriate for a commander.”

The report went on to say that there was a “general agreement’ among both supporters and detractors alike, that at many meetings “Naughton would question his subordinates with intensity, with a raised voice and in an aggressive tone.”

ON HIS WAY OUT THE DOOR

Trying to put the best “spin” on his public firing, Naughton released a statement in which he said: “Over the past few months, too much attention has been focused by the media and others on the superintendent.

Because of this attention, I have asked the chief of naval operations to reassign me elsewhere and to bring in new leadership that can take the academy where it needs to go.”

If his many critics have their way, the next “assignment” the 56 year-old admiral will have, is joining the “retired” rolls. A monetary fine or incarceration is out-of-the-question for such a high-ranking officer. But the “penalty” of being removed from his job and in all likelihood the end of his career while still in his mid-50’s, is worse than any formal “punishment” he could have ever received.