Defense Department Inspector General Joseph H. Sherick is planning an inquiry about Vice Adm. Joseph Metcalf III, who brought home Soviet arms from Grenada last year despite military and federal prohibitions, according to Pentagon officials.

The inquiry follows a preliminary examination by the Pentagon's general counsel, whose findings reportedly warranted a further probe.

Sherick has questioned the Navy's handling of Metcalf and his staff after it was revealed that they brought home 24 AK47 assault rifles captured during the Grenada invasion.

Metcalf, who commanded U.S. forces during the October 1983 invasion, was given a nonpunitive "caution" by Navy superiors after admitting that he had brought back the guns as souvenirs and saying he was unaware of the prohibitions.

Sherick questioned then why Metcalf had been given authority to quash an internal investigation. When naval investigators asked Metcalf's superior how to proceed, they were told that Metcalf "had requested to be allowed to handle the problem himself."

Their investigation was dropped after Metcalf admitted bringing home the guns and asked, "What is there to investigate?"

Four lower-ranking Marines and five soldiers who had returned with AK47s have received jail terms as long as three years. Some of them had also tried to sell their contraband on the black market.