CHARLESTON, S.C. (CN) - Thirty-four sailors were tossed out of the Navy's nuclear training school in Goose Creek, S.C., for their participation in a seven-year-long cheating scandal.
The Naval Nuclear Power Training Command is on the grounds of the Naval Weapons Station Charleston. All of those kicked out of the school were trying to qualify for supervisory instructor roles in which they'd be charged with teaching other sailors how to operate shipboard nuclear reactors.
According to the Navy, the 34 were snared in an investigation into a seven-year long cheating ring in Charleston. Ten other sailors are still under scrutiny, the Navy said.
The Navy said its inquiry began with a tip from a class member in February 2014.
Its examination revealed that more than 76 senior enlisted staff instructors at the school had participated in a system to cheat on the classified engineering watch supervisor qualification.
As explained in Defense Department documents, Navy personnel assigned to the former USS Daniel Webster, now known as "Moored Training Ship 626," created thumb drives, compact discs and emails to align with five versions of the engineering test.
Because of their positions, these personnel would be alerted to which version of the test was scheduled, and they would pass this information on to the cheating students.
Seventy-eight sailors were found to have cheated on the test over the seven-year period.
In documents released Wednesday, the Navy said it had adjudicated 68 cases and found that 36 sailors were guilty of the most serious infractions.
"Punishment was suspended for two of the 36 sailors based on their minimal involvement and their strong potential for rehabilitation," the documents state.
The remaining 34 were stripped of their security clearances and kicked out of the service.
The Navy said it is evaluating procedures in its nuclear testing enterprise and continuing to investigate how the ring operated for so long without being detected.
In an endorsement of the investigation's findings, Adm. John Richardson, head of Navy's nuclear reactor program, said: "Appropriate actions will be taken to hold accountable officials bearing responsibility for allowing incidents of cheating at NPTU Charleston to continue undetected for at least seven years.
"This incident identified a number of areas in need of improvement in the program. The NNPP has taken this as an opportunity to conduct a thorough self-evaluation, establish root causes, and apply appropriate corrective actions."
The Navy has about 16,000 sailors assigned to operating reactors aboard the fleet's aircraft carriers and submarines.