WASHINGTON — The Navy said Tuesday it is investigating about 30 senior sailors linked to alleged cheating on tests meant to qualify them to train others to operate naval nuclear power reactors.
Unlike an Air Force cheating inquiry that has implicated nearly 100 individuals responsible for land-based nuclear missiles that stand ready for short-notice launch, those implicated in this investigation have no responsibility for nuclear weapons.
The Navy said the implicated sailors are accused of having cheated on written tests they must pass to be certified as instructors at a nuclear propulsion school in Charleston, S.C. The Navy uses two nuclear reactors there to train sailors for duty aboard any of dozens of submarines and aircraft carriers around the world whose on-board reactors provide propulsion. They are not part of any weapons systems.
The accused sailors previously had undergone reactor operations training at Charleston before deploying aboard a nuclear-power vessel. In the normal course of career moves, they returned to Charleston to serve as instructors, for which they must pass requalification exams.
Adm. John Richardson, director of the Navy's nuclear propulsion program, said an undisclosed number of senior sailors are alleged to have provided test information to their peers.
Richardson said the alleged cheating came to light Monday when a senior enlisted sailor at the Charleston training site reported the cheating to higher authorities. Richardson said the unidentified sailor "recognized that this was wrong" and chose to report it.