Cheating Scandal Spreads to the Navy’s Nuclear Fleet
Thirty sailors responsible the Navy’s nuclear reactor training have been suspended for allegedly cheating on exams. By Stephanie Gaskell
This story has been updated.
A number of United States Navy sailors have been suspended and are under investigation for allegations that they cheated on qualifying exams to teach and train nuclear propulsion team members.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert and one of his top admirals filed into the Pentagon briefing room on Tuesday — just the way his counterpart in the Air Force did last week — to tell the public about the cheating scandal among the ranks at Naval Weapons Station Charleston in South Carolina.
About 30 engineering watch supervisors have had the access to the site removed, a Navy official said. There are about 150 qualified engineering watch supervisors at Charleston.
The nuclear propulsion program is responsible for running and maintaining the nuclear reactors that power the Navy’s submarines and aircraft carriers. The tests are not related to nuclear weapons. Adm. John Richardson, director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, said so far there is only evidence of cheating among the staff, not the students.
“I’m hesitant to give you a number right now,” he said, adding that the Navy was alerted to the alleged cheating on Monday from a sailor who was troubled by it. Investigators will also be looking at whether the cheating was contained to Charleston or other Navy bases as well. There are about 16,000 sailors in the Navy’s nuclear propulsion program.
Last week, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh and Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced that 92 Air Force officers in charge of nuclear missiles had their access revoked for cheating on proficiency exams, or knowing about it and not reporting it. That cheating scandal has led many to question the morale of the nuclear force.
Richardson said he doesn’t believe the cheating is linked to low morale, but added that he’s “taking nothing for granted right now. “
“It affects the very basis of our ethos,” Greenert said. “We expect more from our sailors.” He also said the exams involve classified information and investigators are working to make sure no classified or sensitive information was breached.