By MICHAEL MELIA, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ U.S. Navy investigators have dismissed allegations that pervasive cheating has tainted training exams administered to enlisted sailors and officers in the submarine force, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The inspector general for the Atlantic submarine force opened an investigation following a complaint that originated in Groton, Conn., the home port of an attack submarine that was hit by a cheating scandal in 2010.
In a letter sent to U.S. Fleet Forces Command in December, the commander for the Atlantic submarine force said the claims were unsubstantiated. It said previous episodes mentioned in the complaint were investigated and dealt with individually.
The letter, which the AP obtained Thursday through a Freedom of Information Act request, recommended the case be “closed as unsubstantiated with no further action.”
The investigation began with a complaint from a crew member aboard the USS Memphis, a submarine that lost about 10 percent of its crew to disciplinary measures after a cheating ring was discovered in November 2010. The crew member also complained that the punishments were unduly harsh and influenced by abuse of authority _ claims that were also investigated and dismissed by the Navy.
In the case of the Memphis, sailors were emailed the answers before qualification exams, took tests outside the presence of proctors and openly asked officers for answer keys.
The Navy has insisted that the episode reflected a rare lapse in integrity. But some former officers told the AP that it was an extreme example of shortcuts that sailors on other submarines have taken to pass increasingly difficult training exams that little bearing on skills sailors actually need.
The cheating aboard the Memphis was among the lapses mentioned by the commander of the Navy’s submarine force, Vice Adm. John Richardson, in a blog posting last month stressing the importance of character.
“Invisibility and character have a long relationship, and it hasn’t always been a healthy one. Being out of sight can uniquely challenge one’s character,” he wrote.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)