Thirty-six crew members of the USS Acadia were pregnant and had to be transferred during the supply ship's deployment to the Persian Gulf, naval officials say.

More than half became pregnant after the ship was under way, but Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Smallwood said there were no indications of improper fraternization between men and women on the ship."These women have a right to get pregnant," Smallwood said. "The conclusion somebody is jumping to is that the Acadia is a love boat, and that's not the case."

The ship, whose 1,250-person crew includes 360 women, returned home Friday after more than seven months in the gulf region. The Acadia is among a number of Navy support vessels that permit women to serve on board because it's not considered a combat ship.

Naval policy is to transfer women immediately to shore duty if they become pregnant.

Smallwood rejected suggestions the women may have gotten pregnant to get out of gulf duty, saying the Acadia performed well during its deployment and that the number of pregnancies on board the ship were irrelevant.

"Placing any kind of significance (on the pregnancies) is trivializing the role of the women," Smallwood said Friday. "The Acadia did a great job in the gulf."

The Navy has strict rules against sexual relationships between men and women while on duty or if they are of different ranks, but Smallwood maintained there is no evidence any regulations were broken.