Capt. Simon McKeon, the commanding officer of the guided-missile cruiser Normany, right, and Ensign Seth Brock, a gunnery officer assigned to the Ticonderoga-class warship, monitor operations on the bridge during sea and anchor detail as the ship pulls into Halifax, Canada, while Normandy is underway as part of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, Oct. 28, 2022. McKeon was relieved of command on Nov. 8, 2022. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Malachi Lakey.
Less than eight months after he took command of the guided-missile cruiser Normandy, Capt. Simon McKeon has been canned.
On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Rear Adm. Greg Huffman, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 12, relieved McKeon “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command,” according to a prepared statement released in the wake of the firing.
According to 2nd Fleet spokesperson Cmdr. Lara Bollinger, McKeon's relief stemmed from an ongoing Naval Criminal Investigative Service probe.
"It would be inappropriate to provide further comment as this investigation is ongoing," she told Coffee or Die Magazine.
The Ticonderoga-class Normandy is underway in the Atlantic Ocean as the primary escort of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford. Capt. Gary Chase, the commanding officer of a sister Tico, Vicksburg, has been temporarily reassigned to helm Normandy until a permanent replacement can be named.
A Navy statement insisted that there will be “no impacts to mission or schedule due to this relief.”
Then-Cmdr. Simon McKeon, commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer Curtis Wilbur, places a wreath during the Shimoda Black Ship Festival ceremony in Shimoda, Japan, on May 19, 2018. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tracey Bannister.
Attempts by Coffee or Die to contact McKeon, 47, by phone, text, and email messages weren’t successful.
No other member of the command triad was relieved, Bollinger said.
A Connecticut native, McKeon is a career surface warfare officer. He was commissioned in 1998 after graduating from the US Naval Academy.
He made captain on June 1, 2020.
Before taking the helm of Normandy during a change-of-command ceremony in Virginia Beach on March 24, McKeon served as the branch chief for the Space and Missile Defense Branch Joint Staff.
From left: Seaman Dajaun Patrick; Cmdr. Anthony Bryant, executive officer of the guided-missile cruiser Normandy; Capt. Simon McKeon, then-commanding officer of the warship; and Ensign Elise Thompson monitor the position of the Ticonderoga-class vessel as it conducts a replenishment-at-sea with the Henry J. Kaiser-class oiler John Lenthall as part of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, Oct. 9, 2022. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Malachi Lakey.
At sea, McKeon served on board the guided-missile cruiser Anzio and the frigate Doyle before becoming the weapons and combat systems officer on board the guided-missile destroyer Decatur.
There, he executed the first successful exo-atmospheric destruction of a ballistic missile by an Arleigh Burke-class warship.
He also participated in Operation Burnt Frost, the 2008 interception and detonation of the malfunctioning US National Reconnaissance Office satellite USA-193 and its hydrazine propellant.
After serving as the executive officer of the guided-missile destroyer Curtis Wilbur, he fleeted up to take command of the warship.
Ashore, McKeon has served at US Naval Forces Europe, the US 6th Fleet, and US Naval Forces Africa, and held a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency fellowship.
His decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, three Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, three Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and four Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medals.
Editor's note: This story was updated to include a statement from 2nd Fleet and more details from McKeon's military records.
Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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