Two sailors were accused of thieving money and other valuables during an inspection of a Singaporean vessel in the Gulf, navy officials said.

Vice Admiral Timothy Lafleur, the commander of Naval Surface Forces, ordered commanders to hold the "ethics, trust, responsibility and mission stand down" sometime over the next 15 days, a spokesman said.

The order is directed at warships with teams for boarding, search and seizure operations, mainly cruisers, destroyers and frigates that make up the bulk of the navy surface fleet, said Lieutenant Commander Joe Navratil.

"The ship will continue its operations," said Navratil. "But what will happen is the leadership on each ship will sit down with boarding team members and reemphasise everything from start to finish on our role there doing boarding, search and seizure."

USS Higgins

The incident that prompted the action occurred during an inspection 8 January of a Singaporean vessel by the USS Higgins, a guided missile cruiser, a Navy official said.

The merchant ship's master reported that $200 in cash, three cameras and a watch were missing after the search.

The boarding party was searched and the items were found on two sailors. They have been ordered brought before a captain's mast to face charges of theft.

The captain of the Higgins can restrict the sailors to ship for up to 45 days, assign them up to 45 days extra duty, withhold a half month's pay for up to two months, and recommend that they be discharged from the service.