A commanding officer for a U.S. Navy destroyer has been removed from his position, allegedly a result of refusing to comply with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine mandates.
Commander Lucian Kins, second in command of the destroyer USS Winston Churchill, was relieved of duty on Dec. 10. According to the Associated Press, while a spokesperson screened the exact reason for the termination, Kins was said to have lost the confidence of his commanding officers because he disobeyed a “lawful order.”
However, other officials that spoke to AP on the condition of anonymity said the event occurred because Kins requested an exemption on religious grounds, but after it was denied, the Commander still refused to accept injection.
Kins is said to be the first Navy officer who has been axed for refusing vaccination.
At the moment, Kins has been reassigned to the staff of Naval Surface Squadron 14. His post as the second in command of USS Winston Churchill has now been temporarily taken over by Lieutenant Commander Han Yi who will assume the role until a suitable replacement is found.
Like Kins, thousands of other defense personnel have signaled their hesitancy with regard to vaccine mandates. According to the latest Army data, approximately 50,000 military personnel have refused vaccinations.
The U.S. Air Force had set a vaccination deadline of Nov. 2, the Navy and Marine Corps on Nov. 28, and the Army on Dec. 15.
The Washington Post estimates there are a total of 1.3 million active-duty personnel in the army. While the Army alone has 14,000 unvaccinated personnel, the Air Force, Marine Corps, and the Navy account for roughly 25,000 additional unvaccinated members.
The Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve are estimated to have 10,700 unvaccinated troops.
Those who refuse injection could be subject to a wide range of disciplinary measures that include court-martial and non-judicial punishments. In October, Marines were warned that not getting vaccination could result in the person being “processed for administrative separation.”
The Army warned its members in November that unvaccinated individuals can get “flagged” and banned from promotions, re-enlistment, and Army schools. The U.S. Navy warned in October that unvaccinated employees will be forced out of service.