Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano speaks to sailors at Chinhae Naval Base, South Korea, Friday, April 27, 2018.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano speaks to sailors at Chinhae Naval Base, South Korea, Friday, April 27, 2018. (Marcus Fichtl/Stars and Stripes)

NOTE: This story has been updated to include details about Giordano's retirement announcement.

WASHINGTON – The Navy’s senior enlisted sailor on Thursday announced he would leave the service in an attempt to “avoid distraction” as the Navy inspector general probes allegations that he fostered a hostile work environment in his Pentagon office.

“I have informed the chief of naval operations [Adm. John Richardson] that I intend to step aside and submit my retirement request, in order to allow the CNO, our [enlisted leadership], and our sailors to continue to move forward with the initiatives we have begun,” Master Chief of the Navy Steven Giordano wrote Thursday afternoon in a message posted on the Navy’s Facebook page. “The success of our Navy is not about one person or one individual, but rather the collective fighting spirit that has defined us over the last 242 years. It has been an honor to have been part of that team.”

Giordano, who has served as the Navy’s top enlisted sailor since September 2016, had taken leave amidst the misconduct investigation, Navy officials said earlier Thursday.

The investigation was initiated last month following a formal complaint by a sailor working for Giordano. The sailor alleged Giordano created a toxic work environment and belittled people who worked for him, often demanding they perform menial tasks, Navy officials said.

In his note to the force, Giordano made no mention of the allegations against him. He wrote his tenure in the sea service was a “privilege” and an “honor.”

“My family and I have felt extremely blessed to have had you [sailors] in our lives over the 29 years,” he wrote. “My love for our Navy and our sailors is absolute.”

Giordano, who enlisted in 1989, is the 14th master chief petty officer of the Navy, according to his official biography. He is a native of Baltimore, Md. In addition to multiple deployments aboard surface ships and submarines in the Pacific and European areas of responsibility, Giordano has served in Guam and Bahrain. He was the force master chief for Navy Information Dominance Forces and fleet master chief for U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa.

As the Navy’s senior enlisted leader, Giordano serves as a chief adviser to the chief of naval operations, develops policy and advocates for the sea service’s enlisted force.

Master chief petty officers of the Navy typically serve two-year assignments, which can be extended to four years.

It was not immediately clear Thursday who would step into Giordano's role in a temporary or permanent capacity. Twitter: @CDicksteinDC

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Corey Dickstein covers the military in the U.S. southeast. He joined the Stars and Stripes staff in 2015 and covered the Pentagon for more than five years. He previously covered the military for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia. Dickstein holds a journalism degree from Georgia College & State University and has been recognized with several national and regional awards for his reporting and photography. He is based in Atlanta.

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