A third top officer from the USS Stark has been reprimanded for dereliction of duty in connection with the May 17 attack by an Iraqi jet that killed 37 sailors, the Navy said yesterday.

Lt. Cmdr. Raymond Gajan Jr., 35, of Rockville, the frigate's second in command as its executive officer, received a letter of admonition, a lesser punishment than the Stark's captain and the weapons officer. Unlike the others, he has not asked to leave the Navy.

"He has the option to continue active naval service," the Navy said.

Gajan was given a letter of admonition at an "admiral's mast" Monday by Rear Adm. David M. Bennett, deputy commander, Naval Surface Force, Atlantic Fleet, and was "detached for cause" from his position on the Stark. Gajan is assigned to Destroyer Squadron 8 in Mayport, Fla.

The Navy ignored a recommendation for a court-martial and instead issued letters of reprimand to the Stark's skipper, Capt. Glenn Brindel, 43, of Pittsburgh, and its weapons officer, Lt. Basil E. Moncrief Jr., 35, of Corpus Christi, Tex., both of whom are leaving the Navy.

All were aboard the guided missile frigate in the Persian Gulf when it was struck by two Exocet missiles launched from an Iraqi Mirage F1 jet, killing 37 sailors and wounding 21. Iraq apologized for the "unintentional" attack. The United States accepted the apology.