NORFOLK - 11 sailors assigned to the Norfolk-based amphibious assault ship USS Wasp are being disciplined for using Spice.
The sailors have been or are in the process of being separated from the Navy following an investigation in October.
The sailors rank from E-1 to E-5, officials said.
Spice, a synthetic compound, produces an experience similar to a marijuana high and is sometimes referred to as synthetic pot.
Two other Wasp sailors face Captain’s Mast for violating Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, for the alleged use, purchase or distribution of the synthetic hallucinogenic compound 2C-1, commonly called “Smiles.” It's often sold in hydrochloride salt form as either a white power or tablet.
“It is very disheartening,” said USS Wasp Command Master Chief Brian Schlicht.
In a phone interview with 13News, Schlicht said zero-tolerance for substance abuse in the military is critical.
“There is not room for this stuff because we’ve proven over the years that people that aren’t in their right mind hurt each other and hurt themselves,” he said.
Schlicht, who was not cleared to discuss specifics about the cases aboard his ship, spoke in generalities about the on-going Navy effort to curb substance abuse, particularly in the unforgiving environment of the sea.
“Everybody has to be really paying attention to what’s going on all the time, and if they’re impaired at all they put themselves and others in danger and we can’t have that,” he said.
Schlicht said most sailors abide by the rules. “This is a small percentage of our crew,” he said.
“Ninety-nine percent of the crew on board the Wasp and other ships in the Navy are doing the right thing. They’re towing the line. They’re not using these substances. So we need to tell their story, about these other folks, who are doing all kinds of great things and upholding the policies of zero- tolerance.”
There have been previous disciplinary actions for using Spice.
In April, 12 sailors from the Norfolk-based USS Mahan were discharged for using Spice.
In October, 2011, 64 sailors from Pacific Fleet commands, including 49 from USS Carl Vinson, were accused of using Spice.
In February, 2011, 16 sailors from the Norfolk-based USS Bataan were discharged from using Spice.
Just last week, the Joint Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board put two businesses on its off-limits list over reports they sold Spice.