Top admiral condemns extremism after ‘separate incidents’ of hate speech on two Navy ships

'We will own this'

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday issued a fleet-wide message on Tuesday urging sailors to fight extremism following “two separate incidents where symbols of hate and violence were anonymously left in living areas aboard ships.”

“The chain of command took both of those incidents seriously and immediately launched investigations, which are ongoing,” Gilday said in the message.

Most recently, “hate speech graffiti” was discovered within the past week in a bathroom aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, Navy officials said.

No more information was immediately available about what the graffiti said because the matter is being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, said Navy Capt. John Gay, a Pacific Fleet spokesman.

This latest incident comes after a sailor aboard the cruiser USS Lake Champlain admitted to leaving a noose at the bunk of a Black crew member on Jan. 26. The sailor was removed from the ship.

Adm. John Aquilino, commander of Pacific Fleet, met with sailors aboard both the Carl Vinson and Lake Champlain on Monday as part of the stand down to address extremism mandated by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a news release from Pacific Fleet says.

“I have policies in the Pacific Fleet that we do not care what race you are, what creed you are, what god you pray to, what sexual orientation you are, or what gender you are,” Aquilino told the sailors. “We are all sailors, we are all shipmates, and we are here to serve our nation and defend the Constitution. I owe you a safe place to work so that you can execute your mission and fulfill your oath.”

In his fleet-wide message, Gilday said that hate symbols run counter to the Navy’s culture and that Navy leaders cannot tolerate extremist activity of any kind.

“We must better understand the scope of the problem, get after this issue, and eliminate conduct that is driven by extremist beliefs,” Gilday said. “No doubt, this is a leadership issue. We will own this.”

Featured image: aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson transits the Pacific Ocean, Oct. 13, 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Devin M. Monroe.)

Jeff Schogol

Jeff Schogolis the senior Pentagon reporter for Task & Purpose. He has covered the military for 15 years. You can email him at schogol@taskandpurpose.com, direct message @JeffSchogol on Twitter, or reach him on WhatsApp and Signal at 703-909-6488. Contact the author here.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information