Submarine Commander Faked Death to End Affair, Navy Says

PHOTO: Cmdr. Michael P. Ward II, center, is saluted during the change-of-command ceremony for the nuclear submarine.

A Navy officer has been relieved of his duties as commander of a submarine following the discovery that he faked his own death in order to end an extramarital affair.

Navy Cmdr. Michael Ward II, 43, was dismissed from his post as the commander of the USS Pittsburgh just one week after he took command.

Ward was dismissed when Navy investigators found out that he had sent his 23-year-old girlfriend an email from a fake co-worker claiming that Ward had died, according to a report obtained by the Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act.

Ward had met the unidentified Chesapeake, Va., woman through an online dating service in October. The relationship lasted eight months, according to the Navy.

The married officer moved from Virginia to Connecticut to take command of the submarine and tried to end the relationship with the email.

The woman found out that he was alive when she went to his former house to offer condolences and found a new owner who told her Ward had moved to Connecticut.

Ward found out that the woman was pregnant after he moved and met with her to discuss how to handle the pregnancy, according to the AP. The woman lost the baby due to complications.

The Navy's investigation began when a relative of the woman contacted the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) about Ward, a spokeswoman for the Commander Submarine Group 2 in Pittsburgh told ABCNews.com.

Ward was charged with dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming to an officer and a gentleman, and adultery.

The Navy said in a statement that Ward was relieved of his duties "due to lack of confidence in Ward's ability to command based upon allegations of personal misconduct on the part of Ward."

"Our Navy has a very clear and unambiguous standard regarding the character of our commanding officers, spelled out in the Charge of Command," Capt. Vernon Parks said in a statement. "I reviewed this charge with Cmdr. Ward before he assumed command. He understood the Navy's high standards for command leadership and he failed to uphold them."

The Navy's Charge of Command explicitly states, "It is your responsibility to meet the highest standards of personal and professional conduct at all times."

"All Commanding Officers and others in authority in the naval service are required to show in themselves a good example of honor, virtue, patriotism, and subordination," the charge said.

It also says that commanders are expected "to guard against and suppress all dissolute and immoral practices."

Ward did not respond to request for comment. He has been reassigned to administrative duties under another commander, according to the Navy.

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