Capt. Holly Graf's tenure in charge of the guided missile cruiser Cowpens included numerous cases of belittling crew members in a manner that apparently shocked even hardened sailors used to foul-mouthed ship behavior, according to investigators. "What are you, f******* stupid?" was apparently a regular Graf refrain.
The report, which substantiated several of the claims made against Graf, brought an end to her time on the ship. The military newspaper Stars & Stripes reported Graf's removal in January for abusive behavior, citing the inspector general report, which had not been publicly released at the time.
A few days ago, however, the Navy released a copy of the report to the Admiralty & Maritime Law blog, and a copy was obtained by Time magazine under the Freedom of Information Act. The Time article, which includes extensive interviews, painted Graf as a modern William Bligh, a reference to the 18th-century British naval captain whose infamously harsh treatment sparked a mutiny on the Bounty.
The question being raised now is how Graf was able to rise through the ranks and stay in command as long as she did. Even before the inspector general report was released, Graf's exploits as captain of the Cowpens proved rich fodder for national security bloggers and blog commenters, who discussed her alleged misdeeds, including an allegation that her ship had plowed into a whale (and that she had tried to prevent pictures being taken of the dead mammal).
"Apparently this is the same Captain Graf who reportedly mowed down a whale on the high seas, and who seriously offended an Australian official during a port call," Susan Katz Keating, a national security reporter, wrote on her personal blog. "Captain Graf also was known for her skills at coffee-cup-hurtling but not seamanship."
But the captain of the McCain apparently defended Graf, saying she halted the race and that neither ship was ever in danger.
According to Time, Graf is now assigned to a naval laboratory.