Sexism and the Navy's Female Captain Bligh

Captain Holly Graf, the first woman to command a Navy cruiser, rose fast through the ranks — until reports of her abusive command style caught up with her. The inside story of her stunning fall

Illustration by John Ritter for TIME; Graf: U.S. Navy / AP; Ship: AP

It should have been clear to the U.S. Navy that Holly Graf wasn't fit for command when her destroyer steamed out of a Sicilian port in 2003 on the eve of the Iraq war. Without warning, all 9,000 tons of the U.S.S. Winston S. Churchill shuddered as it cleared the harbor's breakwater. The screws stopped turning, and the 511-ft.-long ship was soon adrift. "What the hell happened?" Commander Graf demanded from the bridge. She grabbed her cowering navigator and pulled him onto the outdoor bridge wing. "Did you run my f___ing ship aground?" she screamed. Not only was this...

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