The Navy has nominated a new intelligence officer top intel officer in an attempt to break a two-year impasse that has left the service's intel boss with less access to secret information than an ensign.  than the without a security clearance and without a ready successor.

Rear Adm. Elizabeth Train was formally nominated to become the director of naval intelligence on Sept. 17. She would .   's name was sent to the Senate Sept. 17, almost a year after the Navy first signaled its intent to replace Vice Adm. Ted Branch, who has been hamstrung since November 2013 by a slow-burning methodicalglacial Justice Department investigation into his ties to port services contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia and its charismatic former head, "Fat" Leonard Francis.

Over the past two years, Branch has been relegated to administrative duties and leading a campaign to raise awareness of cyber security inside the Navy, without being able to view classified intelligence that would identify outline precisely what those cyber threats are.

Train's name was floated by the Navy in November, but her nomination was never sent to the Senate. Train, a career intelligence officer, received her commission in 1983 and has led the Office of Naval Intelligence and the National Maritime Intelligence-Integration Office for two years.

Asked to explain the year-long gap, Navy top spokeswoman Rear Adm. Dawn Cutler said in a statement that "Rear Adm. Train's nomination to be the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance and Director of Naval Intelligence (N2N6) went through the normal vetting process and was announced by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and now awaits confirmation by the Senate."

Justice is looking into whether Branch, and his deputy Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, took gifts from Francis without reimbursing the value, according to the sources who spoke on background. The allegations stem from Branch's time as the commanding officer of the carrier Nimitz from  head of the Nimitz carrier strike group/Branch didn't head the Nimitz CSG/sf in the mid-2000s.

The scandal that wrapped up the Navy's top intel officer has been among the most high-profile for the service in decades, with active-duty officers criminally charged or fired from their positions in a wide-ranging investigation that could implicate dozens. Francis, known as "Fat Leonard" for his considerable girth, was a fixture of WESTPAC cruises as the head of 7th Fleet's lead husbanding firm, responsible for arranging port services for visiting ships.

Vice Adm. Ted Branch
Vice Adm. Ted Branch

Vice Adm. Ted Branch.

Photo Credit: Navy

Francis was known for targeting senior officers and supply officers with gifts, often putting them in an awkward position by sending expensive cigars or bottles of champagne, some officers have said. On one occasion, Francis allegedly offered Cmdr. Mike Misiewicz tickets to a Lady Gaga concert.

In exchange for the gifts, prosecutors say Francis expected information, some of which, like ship's schedules, for example, was classified. He also wanted the rerouting of ships to more lucrative ports where GDMA was better able to overcharge the Navy undetected.

Francis pleaded guilty to the charges in January.

Since then, three admirals, including the former head of the prestigious U.S. Naval Academy, were censured for taking gifts from FrancisLeonard. The gifts ranged from expensive ship models to lavish dinners for which the officers underpaid. These ethical violations

The pace of the Justice Department's investigation, which is entering its third year this November, has rankled senior leaders because the investigations have hampered the Navy's ability to move flag officers around.

A Navy official who spoke on background said that things have begun to move again as Some senior leaders have been cleared of wrongdoing allowing admirals to transfer and retire, said one Navy official, but the DoJ investigation continues. , including former Pacific Command head Adm. Sam Locklear and Fifth Fleet head Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan