In a widening scandal, the Navy cut ties Wednesday with a second international company over "questionable business integrity" involving lucrative contracts to service U.S. ships in foreign ports.
The Navy announced that it has suspended contracts with British-based Inchcape Shipping Services Ltd. and its affiliated companies. The firm has provided "ship husbanding" services to U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea.
Navy officials said the suspension of Inchcape is not connected to the investigation into another longtime contractor in the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia.
The investigation into Glenn Defense Marine Asia has led to criminal charges in San Diego against two Navy commanders, a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent, and two Malaysian business executives.
Also, two admirals have been put on leave, a Navy captain transferred to a lesser job, and another captain relieved of command of his ship.
Speaking about Inchcape, Rear Adm. John F. Kirby said the suspension "reflects the mandate of the secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, to ensure that [Navy] contractors are fully compliant with contracting regulations and procedures."
The Navy did not release details about its concerns about Inchcape.
The Inchcape and Glenn Defense cases highlight the enormous expense of keeping U.S. ships deployed. The Navy currently has 86 ships deployed.
When it cut ties with Glenn Defense, the Navy said it had canceled contracts worth more than $203 million.
Contracts with Inchcape exceed $250 million, according to Navy documents. The largest contract was $194 million to service ships in Manama, Bahrain.
At the center of the Glenn Defense Marine Asia case is the firm's flamboyant owner, Leonard Glenn Francis.
Charged with bribing the two Navy officers and NCIS agent for confidential information about Navy ships, Francis, 49, remains in federal prison in San Diego, awaiting trial.