WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- A U.S. Navy attack submarine commander faked his death to end an extramarital affair, a Navy investigatory report released Tuesday revealed.
Navy Times reported Cmdr. Michael Ward was relieved of his command Aug. 10, just a week after taking over responsibility for the USS Pittsburgh, based in Groton, Conn.
"Commander Ward's dishonesty and deception in developing, maintaining and attempting to end his inappropriate relationship with [redacted] were egregious and are not consistent with our Navy's expectations of a commissioned officer," Capt. Vernon Parks, head of Submarine Squadron 12, said in endorsing the report.
Rear Adm. Rick Breckenridge subsequently ruled Sept. 5 Ward had broken the Uniform Code of Military Justice, citing his dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman, and adultery.
The married 43-year-old father of two was assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington when he began an affair with a 23-year-old Chesapeake, Va., woman he met through an online dating service in October 2011. At one point, she became pregnant, though she lost the baby. Ward attempted to break off the relationship in July by sending her an email from a fake account in which Ward made up a friend, "Bob," who told the woman Ward had been killed, suggesting it was on a secret mission.
The mistress later learned Ward had only moved to Connecticut to take command of the Pittsburgh.
The Day newspaper in New London, Conn., reported Ward received a punitive letter of reprimand and has been assigned to administrative duties at the submarine group.
The newspaper said when it told the woman, who hasn't disclosed her name to avoid harming her career in the banking industry, about the Navy report she responded "wow" several times.
"What a mess. I'm glad the report doesn't have my name in it and that he, at least, owned up to everything, but wow," she said.
"I feel better. Things have been really good for me at work and my family has been very supportive. I'm trying to just get over him and what happened. It's not going to happen overnight by any means."
The Day said it could not reach Ward for comment Tuesday.
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