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Report: Submarine hazing centered on homosexuality

Published Jun. 24, 2012

NORFOLK, Va. — A Navy hazing case that led to the firing of the top enlisted officer aboard a nuclear submarine was sparked by gay jokes about a sailor who said another man tried to rape him while in a foreign port, according to an investigative report obtained by the Associated Press.

The report sheds light on a hazing case that led to the reassignment of Master Chief Machinist's Mate Charles Berry, who had been serving as "chief of the boat" on the Kings Bay, Ga.-based USS Florida.

The Navy announced March 30 that Berry had been relieved as chief due to dereliction of duty. The chief of the boat advises the commanding officer of issues involving enlisted sailors.

The Navy's announcement said the case involved allegations of hazing aboard Florida, but gave no details. It said Berry was not involved in the hazing, but had knowledge of it and failed to inform his chain of command.

An investigative report obtained by the Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act says the hazing was directed at a sailor who had reported that another man pulled a knife and tried to rape him while in the port at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

All names in the documents provided to the Associated Press were redacted.

The report says there was a culture of hazing and sexual harassment aboard the submarine and there was inadequate knowledge about the Navy's policies against it to stop the behavior.

More counseling and training was ordered at all levels to avoid similar problems in the future.

Military suicides in response to hazing recently have gotten the attention of Congress. The nephew of Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., killed himself after enduring hazing by fellow Marines in Afghanistan. Chu is pushing a proposal to better track and define hazing in the Uniform Code of Military Justice.