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Nuclear sub commander loses job amid misconduct probe

  • Story Highlights
  • Navy says it has lost confidence in officer's ability to command
  • Crew members on sub disciplined for faking inspection records, Navy says
  • Ten people have been relieved of duty; six received "nonjudicial punishment"
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(CNN) -- The commander of the nuclear-powered submarine USS Hampton has been relieved of his command amid an inquiry into misconduct by crew members, the U.S. Navy said Friday.

The USS Hampton appears in an undated photograph.

Cmdr. Michael B. Portland lost his post "due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command," the Navy said in a statement. Cmdr. William J. Houston will replace Portland.

The crew neither maintained inspection records nor conducted the required inspection of chemical levels associated with the cooling system of the ship's nuclear reactor, Navy officials said. The crew then went back and falsified existing records to make it appear the work had been done.

"There is not, and never was, any danger to the crew or the public," the Navy said.

Portland's demotion brings to 10 the number of people relieved of duty on the submarine in the wake of the misconduct probe.

Six personnel have been punished for forging inspection records for the cooling system, the Navy officials said Monday. Those six -- one officer and five enlisted personnel -- received a "nonjudicial punishment" after other Navy personnel discovered their actions, the officials said.

The Navy said Friday that one officer and two enlisted crew members have been temporarily reassigned to Submarine Squadron 11. Portland also will be temporarily reassigned to that squadron.

The misconduct was discovered September 17 but not made public until after completion of an initial inquiry.

A fact-finding investigation is under way, and further action against Navy crew members is possible, a Navy official said.

The Hampton remains in port in San Diego, California. In all, the $900 million vessel's crew includes 13 officers and 116 enlisted personnel. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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