Marine Corps
The head in charge of U.S. marines contingent in northern Australia was replaced after he was discovered by the police driving under the influence of alcohol. In this photo, U.S. Navy Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, speaks in front of U.S. Marines at a ceremony marking the start of Talisman Saber 2017, Sydney, Australia on June 29, 2017. Getty Images/ Jason Reed - Pool

The head of U.S. marines contingent in northern Australia was replaced after he was discovered driving under the influence of alcohol by the police, the Marine Corps said Monday.

U.S. Marines First Lt. David Mancilla said in a statement Col. James Schnelle, 48, the commander of the Marine Rotational Force in Darwin, Australia, was "relieved of his duties on Sept. 30 due to a loss of trust and confidence.”

Schnelle appeared in the Darwin Local Court on Monday and pleaded guilty to driving drunk Sept. 30. He had been drinking at a bar Darwin's Mitchell Street nightclub before he got into the car to drive himself home, which was nearby.

The former commander’s blood alcohol level came to .102 after he was subjected to a Breathalyzer test, which was more than double the legal limit in Australia of 0.05 percent, Miami Herald reported.

Schnelle was issued a $500 fine plus a $150 levy and had his driver’s license suspended for six months.

Meanwhile, Schnelle’s lawyer defended his client in the court by stressing on his clean record.

“This is a man of very high character, he has no convictions anywhere in the world and has contributed immensely to society,” the lawyer said. “The US Marines are going to deal with him very harshly.”

As a result of lack of previous offenses, the former colonel’s conviction was not recorded.

Meanwhile, Schnelle said "one extremely poor personal decision" on his part should not compromise accomplishments made by the latest Marines rotation.

"A solid foundation is established; at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels, the future is ripe for continued growth," Schnelle said.

The Marine Corps also announced Lt. Col. Jeramy Brady will be officer-in-charge for the duration of the contingent’s rotation, which was established through a Marine Rotational Force since 2012 under former President Barack Obama.

Currently, over 1,500 U.S. marines are stationed in Darwin. The numbers are to eventually rise to 2,500 Marines.

Former Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said earlier this year the Marine rotation was part of the implementation of the United States Force Posture Initiatives, which underscored the diplomatic relationship between the two nations.

“These Initiatives strengthen the ability of Australia and the US to work together, and with regional partners, in the interests of regional stability and security,” she said, News reported.

The seventh rotation of U.S. troops arrived in Darwin in April to serve the next six months alongside the Australian Defence Force. At the time, Schnelle said he hoped more troops will join his contingent to participate in training exercises between multiple countries in the region.

"The hope is that in the future we'll be able to do some more engagement activities with our regional partners," he said, ABC reported. "It's incredibly important that we continue to build on the ties that exist and continue to take those to the next level."