A sailor has admitted to hanging a noose near a fellow crew member’s bunk aboard a Navy cruiser, and has since been removed from the ship, according to a service official.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service received an anonymous tip that a noose was found on the guided-missile cruiser Lake Champlain, prompting a federal investigation. The suspect’s social media presence has so far not indicated a history of racist posts, the official familiar with the incident said.
“They’re not charged, they’re not under arrest, they’re not in custody,” the official added. “They’re just not on the ship.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune first reported on the investigation into the noose Tuesday.
Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman, a Naval Surface Forces Pacific spokeswoman, confirmed Wednesday that NCIS is investigating the matter. She declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.
“The Navy takes all allegations of sailor misconduct and racial discrimination seriously,” she said.
NCIS did not immediately respond to questions about the investigation.
The Lake Champlain was in port when the noose was found Jan. 26, the official familiar with the situation said. NCIS interviewed several crew members about the noose, which eventually led to the suspect, the official added.
The Navy task force on Wednesday released a report that included dozens of recommendations to stamp out racist and discriminatory policies. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday created the task force last summer after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody.
The Navy cannot tolerate discrimination of any kind, Gilday said this week, and sailors must engage in open and honest conversations with one another.
“While there is still work to be done, I am confident that this report’s recommendations will help make our Navy better, and we will move forward together toward meaningful, long-lasting change,” the CNO said.
The official familiar with the situation on the Lake Champlain said that, while the Navy acted swiftly following reports of the noose being found onboard, the incident shows — as Gilday noted — there is more work to be done to end racism in the service.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has made getting rid of racists and extremists in the ranks a top priority. He directed members of the Joint Chiefs this week to conduct service-wide stand-downs in the next 60 days to address the problems, Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday.
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