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Commander of Beach-based Navy dive unit relieved of duties

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Posted at 8:03 PM, May 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-08 23:25:39-04

Virginia Beach, Va. - Cmdr. Michael Runkle has now been relieved of his duties as commanding officer of the Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 based in Virginia Beach. Two members of this unit died in February at an underwater weapons-testing facility in Maryland.

According to the Navy, he was relieved due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.

They say there were climate concerns after there were discussions with two members of the unit back in January. A survey was done and they found morale issues and a lack of leadership involvement according to the Navy's website. 

After the two sailors drowned in Maryland, officials conducted an investigation and found "continued climate weaknesses" and safety concerns.

Runkle has been reassigned to the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.

Related: 

Navy divers who died during training exercise remembered at JEB Little Creek

Two locally-based Navy divers die conducting diving operations in Maryland

Navy releases names of divers who died during training exercise