Washington, DC – About 30 of 150 watch-standers at the Navy’s Charleston Nuclear Power Training Unit in South Carolina are being investigated for alleged cheating on a written qualification exam, the chief of naval operations said today.
The incident came to light yesterday, and Navy officials are taking quick action to investigate the situation and apply corrective measures, Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.
The propulsion exam allegedly was shared among some senior enlisted operators of nuclear power plants. Both Greenert and Navy Adm. John M. Richardson, the director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, stressed that this incident does not touch on nuclear weapons.
“To say that I’m disappointed would be an understatement,” Greenert, the Navy’s top officer, said. “Whenever I hear about integrity issues, it’s disruptive to our units’ success and it’s definitely contrary to all of our core values — our Navy core values. And it affects the very basis of our ethos.”
The fact that senior enlisted sailors are involved makes this all the more disappointing, Greenert said. “We expect more from our sailors, especially our senior sailors, and we demand it in our training and in our operations,” he added. “And we will operate to that.” If the allegations are substantiated, the sailors will be held accountable, he said.
Richardson took full responsibility for the incident. “This is mine to investigate and to correct,” he said.
The admiral said he learned of the incident, “when one of our sailors … was offered to compromise his integrity, recognized that this was wrong, and reported it to the command.”
The incident took place in the school, which is held on two converted submarines used as training reactors to certify operators to report to the fleet. “This incident involves members of the school staff who are required to qualify to operate and instruct students on the training reactor,” Richardson said.
The incident involves the alleged compromise of the written exam to qualify for one of the 11 watch stations. “To date, we’re getting good cooperation with the investigation,” Richardson said.
The training reactors were shut down for routine maintenance once Navy officials learned of the incident. “The training command has ensured that all personnel implicated in this so far have been removed from the site,” the admiral said. “Their access has been revoked, and all current personnel on watch are those who have no element of implication. As a precautionary measure, these personnel are also being re-tested to validate their knowledge.”