NORFOLK--The Navy says it's discharging 16 sailors assigned to the amphibious ship USS Bataan for using or dealing a synthetic marijuana-like drug known as "Spice."
Authorities discovered the drug aboard the Norfolk-based ship in November.
Naval Surface Force Atlantic spokesman Bill Urban told the newspaper the sailors were disciplined administratively, outside the military's court system.
"It's very disappointing," said FMC Mike Stevens, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. "The leadership, the Navy has made it very clear to our sailors that the use of any type of drug is unacceptable."
The action came following an eight-week investigation, according to the Navy Times.
The Navy says in the last four months, fleet-wide, 151 sailors have been accused of using Spice.
The Navy banned the use of fake pot and Bataan sailors last March were required to sign a statement of understanding acknowledging the ban and the consequences, the Navy Times stated.
A Navy statement to WVEC.com read, "In accordance with the Navy's zero-tolerance policy on drugs, all 16 have been or are in the process of being administratively separated from the Navy... Drug use undercuts unit readiness and morale, and is inconsistent with our Navy Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment."
Spice has also been the target of lawmakers and law enforcement around the country. At least 15 states have moved to regulate or ban one or more of the chemicals used to make it, as have some European and Scandinavian countries.
FULL NAVY STATEMENT:
Sixteen Sailors from USS Bataan (LHD 5) received non-judicial punishment under Article 92 of the UCMJ for the use, purchase, and/or distribution of a synthetic cannabinoid, commonly referred to as 'Spice." In accordance with the Navy's zero-tolerance policy on drugs, all 16 have been or are in the process of being administratively separated from the Navy.
The Navy has a zero tolerance policy on drug abuse. Drug use undercuts unit readiness and morale, and is inconsistent with our Navy Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment.
FMC Mike Stevens added, "There is no margin for error and one sailor whose mind isn't right on that flight deck can cause a catastrophic mishap."