SKIPPER OF "OLD IRONSIDES" AWAITS HIS FATE
"HARD-NOSED" CAPT OF BOSTON-BASED FRIGATE
RELIEVED OF COMMAND - CREW MEMBERS ABOARD
REVOLUTIONARY WARSHIP "A BUNCH OF WHINERS"
SAYS TOP DEFENSE ATTORNEY CHARLES GITTINS
COULD IT BE MUTINOUS MALCONTENTS ARE TRYING
TO MAKE TOUGH CAPTAIN "WALK THE PLANK?"
CMDR THOMAS GRAVES REASSIGNED TO NEWPORT
NAVY YET TO ANNOUNCE COURT-MARTIAL DATE

We've never been fond of obnoxious and overbearing officers who abuse their authority, but we have a sneaking suspicion that Navy Cmdr. Thomas Graves may be getting "keelhauled" by lazy and resentful crew members of the USS Constitution, based in Boston harbor.

Top defense attorney Charles Gittins doesn't waste time on officers who deserve the boot.

Graves was relieved of command in May after allegedly "striking" a petty officer over a slip up on paperwork. The "blow" turned out to be less than a slap or roundhouse right. During the Article 32 hearing Sept. 6 and 7, a complaining sailor testified that Graves "swung his hand" (note the word "fist" was not used) into Yeoman 1st Class Robert Santiago's chest.

But when Santiago took the stand, he couldn't "remember" exactly what happened. A sarcastic Gittins sneered the swabee was a "serial screw-up," a description shared by several others aboard the historic frigate.

Another complaint came from a female sailor who stated Graves called her a "vulgar" name. Good thing for her she never joined the Marines. Most of the gals at Parris Island and San Diego can be rough-tough, (some, we wouldn't want to get in a fistfight with), so if the commander actually said what she claimed he did, (Graves denies it), lets' all get out our hankies and on the count of three, cry "boo-hoo."

But this is no laughing matter. Graves faces up to 12 years in prison and loss of pension and benefits if found "guilty."

We submit the skipper may indeed be "tough and demanding" as his XO, Lt. Brendan McShane testified. But the commanding officer does not deserve to "walk the plank." If the Navy brass have any sense at all, they will slap Graves on the wrist and let him stay in the service.

It's a shame that Santiago, who McShane said was performing his job in a "substandard manner," and the "offended" female sailor felt it necessary to team up and try and ruin a good Naval officer's career. In today's atmosphere of wimpy "leaders" and extreme "political correctness," anything can happen. Even a trip in shackles to the DB.

Stay tuned.