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Twelve chief-selects in Hawaii have been hospitalized after being instructed to PT to the point of exhaustion, the Navy confirmed Thursday evening.
The training occurred Aug. 30 and, according to sources, involved strenuous running and performing pullups over extended periods of time.
The Navy is investigating the training, which involved 20 chief-selects based at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
“The sailors were admitted with symptoms consistent with those suffering ill effects from arduous physical exertion and dehydration,” said Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, a spokesman for Naval Air Forces in San Diego.
All training of chief-selects at Kaneohe Bay has been suspended, he added.
Navy Times learned of the training through a concerned spouse, who said her husband was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, or “rhabdo,” a serious condition in which muscles are overworked to the point of breakdown and release dangerous toxins into the bloodstream that can overwhelm your kidneys.
“This is supposed to be a time of excitement, great achievement and celebration,” the spouse said in an email. “Why is this promotion jeopardizing my husband’s health and the health of 11 others? This situation is truly disturbing on so many levels.”
While some of the selectees have since returned home, including the concerned spouse’s husband, she said several remained hospitalized as of Thursday. The sailors were being treated at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu.
Stephens could not confirm whether any sailors were diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, citing privacy laws. He did say “no life-threatening conditions exist” and that the hospital anticipates everyone going home within 72 hours.
It wasn’t until the day after the PT that one of the CPO selectees sought medical attention and was admitted to hospital, Stephens said, prompting the command to direct the remaining selectees to the hospital for evaluation. Eight of the 20 were not admitted for treatment.
Vice Adm. David Buss, commander of Naval Air Force Pacific, ordered the training suspension pending the outcome of the command investigation being conducted by Capt. Lance Scott, the commander of Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 2, also based at Kaneohe Bay. The suspension was not expected to impact the Sept. 13 pinning of the new chiefs.
The investigation will take a hard look at the physical training that was conducted to determine whether those conducting it violated any Navy regulations, or the established rules of the CPO 365 training program, Stephens said. CPO 365 is the program in which petty officers first class prepare to pin on anchors.
The incident also follows a stern warning from Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens who, a week into chief season, ordered a two-day standdown to remind chiefs about proper treatment of selectees and the rules of CPO 365.
That standdown was ordered after two allegations surfaced of verbal abuse of selectees. Sources said those complaints did not involve physical abuse.
“If we think that CPO selectee training cannot be shut down — we are wrong,” MCPON said in a letter to the chief’s mess. “If we want to be responsible for training our future chiefs, then we must do it in a professional manner.”
It was not immediately clear whether MCPON would issue more guidance in light of the Hawaii hospitalizations. This is the first chief season under Stevens’ leadership and the first in which the term “induction” has been struck from the season. Stevens, in an effort, to curb bad behavior, ordered the term “sundowned” in guidance he issued in January.