The United States Navy has a long and proud history. It is one of the oldest navies in the world and has been involved in many famous naval battles over the years. However, like any other organization, the Navy has had its share of scandals. Here, we will uncover the four worst navy scandals in American history.
The first navy scandal on our list occurred in 1862, during the American Civil War. The USS Monitor was one of the first ironclad ships ever built and was considered a significant naval technology breakthrough. However, just months after it was launched, the ship sank in a storm off the coast of North Carolina. Over 70 people were killed, including its captain.
There are many theories about what caused the ship to sink. Some believe the ship’s design was flawed and not adequately tested before being put into service. Others believe that the ship’s crew was not properly trained to operate it. Regardless of the cause, the sinking of the USS Monitor was a major blow to the Union Navy and led to many changes in navy regulations.
One of the most controversial changes was the introduction of the Navy’s first-ever safety inspection. This inspection was designed to ensure that all ships in the Navy were up to code and that they were safe for their crews. Unfortunately, the first-ever safety inspection did not go as planned.
The Navy’s first-ever safety inspection was conducted in the wake of the USS Monitor’s sinking, ensuring that all ships in the Navy were up to code and that they were safe for their crews. But unfortunately, the first-ever safety inspection did not go as planned.
During the inspection, it was discovered that many of the Navy’s ships were not up to code. In some cases, vessels were found to be structurally unsound and in danger of sinking. In other instances, ship captains were found to be inadequately trained in how to operate their vessels safely. As a result of these findings, many navy regulations were changed.
Despite these changes, there have been several more naval disasters in the years since. In fact, some believe that the Navy’s safety record has actually gotten worse in recent years. This is due in part to the increased size and complexity of navy ships and the Navy’s reliance on outdated technology. With these factors in mind, it’s clear that the Navy still had a long way to go in terms of ensuring the safety of its crews during the 60s and the 70s.
However, the Navy has made significant progress in improving safety since the sinking of the USS Monitor over the decades. Now, the Navy continues to invest in new technology and training for its personnel. Only by consistently doing so can the Navy hope to avoid another major disaster.
The Ribbon Creek Incident
The Ribbon Creek incident occurred in 1956. The incident happened when a group of navy recruits was led by their drill instructor into the Ribbon Creek estuary during a night march, where they drowned, and the incident resulted in six US Marine Corps deaths. The privates include:
- Private Thomas Curtis Hardeman
- Private First Class Donald Francis O’Shea
- Private Charles Francis Reilly
- Private Jerry Lamonte Thomas
- Private Leroy Thompson
- Private Norman Alfred Wood
Staff Sergeant Matthew McKeon was the drill instructor who led the navy recruits into Ribbon Creek. McKeon was found guilty of the following charges:
- possessing alcohol on base (as was shown by McKeon having a drink there at about noon)
- oppressing his troops
- involuntary manslaughter
- and negligent homicide
The investigation into the Ribbon Creek incident revealed that navy training procedures were extremely lax at the time. Drill instructors were not properly supervised, and navy recruits were not given adequate training. As a result of the Ribbon Creek incident, the Navy implemented several changes to its training procedures.
The Navy implemented a number of changes to its training procedures after the Ribbon Creek incident. Some of these changes included:
- Increasing the supervision of drill instructors
- providing more training for navy recruits
- improving communication between drill instructors and navy recruits
- increasing safety measures during navy training drills.
All of these changes helped improve the safety of navy training and prevent future incidents like Ribbon Creek.
The Tailhook Scandal
The 1991 Tailhook convention was an annual gathering of navy aviation personnel and industry representatives. The scandal occurred when 83 women and seven men were sexually assaulted at the event. The victims of the sexual assault were navy and marine corps officers and aviation industry employees.
One of the suspects in the Tailhook scandal was navy aviator Lieutenant Commander Robert D. Stumpf. Stumpf was arrested and charged with three counts of sexual assault. He was later acquitted of all charges.
The Tailhook scandal led to a number of changes within the Navy, including increased training on sexual harassment and assault prevention, as well as new policies regarding alcohol consumption during official navy events. The incident also resulted in greater scrutiny of navy aviators, and many career navy pilots saw their careers end due to the scandal.
The Tailhook scandal was a black mark on the Navy’s reputation and remained one of the most well-known military scandals in recent history. It is an example of the serious consequences that can occur when sexual assault and harassment are not taken seriously by those in positions of power.
The Navy has since worked to improve its policies and procedures regarding sexual assault prevention and response, but the 1991 Tailhook convention continues to be remembered as a tragic event in navy history.
The Fat Leonard Scandal
The Fat Leonard scandal is a corruption scandal that began in 2007. The scandal involves United States Navy officials accused of accepting bribes from Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a Singapore-based defense contractor. GDMA owner, Leonard Glenn Francis, nicknamed “Fat Leonard,” has been accused of bribing Navy officials with cash, prostitutes, and luxury travel expenses in exchange for classified information that allowed GDMA to overbill the Navy for millions of dollars.
As of September 2015, eighteen navy officials have been charged in connection with the scandal, and Francis has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud charges. The scandal is ongoing, and additional navy officials are under investigation.
The Fat Leonard scandal has led to increased scrutiny of the Navy’s contracting procedures and has resulted in several reforms to prevent similar incidents from occurring. However, the scandal has also damaged the Navy’s reputation and raised questions about its ability to manage complex contracts effectively.
The first arrests in connection with the Fat Leonard scandal were made in 2013 when US Navy commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz and public affairs officer John Bertrand Beliveau II was taken into custody. Both Misiewicz and Beliveau were accused of accepting bribes from Francis in exchange for classified information that allowed GDMA to overbill the Navy for millions of dollars.
“Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 49, of San Diego, was sentenced by US District Judge Janis L. Sammartino of the Southern District of California for one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery.”
In 2015, Francis pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud in connection with the scandal. As part of his plea agreement, Francis agreed to cooperate with investigators and provide information about navy officials who had accepted bribes from GDMA.
To date, more than eighteen navy officials have been charged in connection with the Fat Leonard scandal. The scandal is ongoing, and additional navy officials are under investigation. These are some of the officials who pleaded guilty to corruption and fraud:
- Edmond Aruffo, top deputy to Francis; Japan country manager for GDMA; retired US Navy officer
- Alex Wisidagama, Top deputy to Francis, and his cousin; global manager for government contracts at GDMA
- Sharon Gursharan Kaur, Former Francis and later Simpkins subordinate, employed by US Navy in contracting
- Pornpun “Yin” Settaphakorn, Thai citizen and supervisor of GDMA’s Thailand office, indicted in 2014 with GDMA Singapore executives Neil Peterson and Linda Raja, both of whom pleaded guilty, released after serving years in prison
- Lieutenant Commander Alex Gillett, Australian Defence Force liaison to the 7th Fleet
- Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau, Former special assistant to the chief of the Navy Supply Corps
- Captain Michael George Brooks (retired), Former US naval attaché in the Philippines
- Captain Daniel Dusek, Former deputy director of operations for the United States Seventh Fleet, former commander of the USS Bonhomme Richard
- Commander David Kapaun, Former deputy chief of staff for special operations at the Pacific Command
- Commander (Vannak Khiem) Michael Misiewicz, Former deputy director of operations for the Seventh Fleet, former commander of the USS Mustin
- Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, Former logistics officer for the United States Seventh Fleet
- Lieutenant Commander Gentry “Weasel Boy” Debord, Former logistics officer and stock control officer aboard the USS Essex from 2007 to 2010
- Lieutenant Commander Todd Malaki, Former logistics planner and supply officer
- Commander Troy Amundson (retired), Former officer on the USS Halsey
- Petty Officer 1st Class Dan Layug, Former logistics specialist for the USS Blue Ridge and United States Seventh Fleet
- John Beliveau II, Former special agent, Naval Criminal Investigative Service
- Paul Simpkins, Former Navy contracting supervisor based in Singapore
- Rear Admiral Bruce Franklin Loveless (retired), Former US Navy Director of Intelligence Operations, United States Seventh Fleet intelligence chief
- Captain David A. “Too Tall” Lausman (retired), Former commanding officer of the USS George Washington and USS Blue Ridge
- Commander Stephen F. Shedd, Former commanding officer of the USS Milius, a destroyer, and planning officer for the United States Seventh Fleet
- Commander Donald “Bubbles” Hornbeck (retired), Former Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, United States Seventh Fleet
The Fat Leonard scandal’s investigation is still ongoing. However, this incident has led to increased scrutiny of the Navy’s contracting procedures and has resulted in a number of reforms in the US Navy.
Do you remember any other scandals in the Navy? Share them in the comments below!