The Navy is investigating alleged cheating among staff members at its nuclear training school in Charleston, S.C., officials said Tuesday.
The alleged cheating was on a written proficiency exam at one of the Navy's nuclear-training commands, said Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations. The written exam is one several tests a staff member must take to qualify, including passing an oral academic board and a practical exam.
"To say that I'm disappointed would be an understatement," Greenert said, adding that the other elements required to qualify "appear to be valid" based on current information.
All personnel implicated in the cheating have been temporarily removed, said Adm. John Richardson, the director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, adding that all personnel are being retested.
Officials were alerted Monday of the alleged cheating. In addition to the investigation that is underway, Richardson said that a five-person team "will review past assessments to make sure we did not have a broader problem with this command."
It's unclear how many are currently implicated in the alleged cheating, and officials were hesitant to pin down a number. Richardson estimated that in total it involved less than 1 percent of the 16,000 involved in the Navy's nuclear program.
He added that "less than 20" is a "ballpark figure," but officials later categorized the number of those potentially involved could be between 16 and 160.
Staff members went through the qualification as students, and officials estimated that it was likely their third time to qualify.
"We see no evidence of compromises toward the students, at this point," Richardson said.
The Navy is the second branch of the military to have issues with cheating in recent months. Ninety-two members of an Air Force nuclear-missile crew at a base in Montana are being tied to a growing cheating scandal, Air Force officials said last week.