A sailor from the cruiser USS Lake Champlain has admitted to hanging what appeared to be a noose at the rack of a Black crew member aboard the ship, a Navy official said.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service began an investigation after the noose appeared on Jan. 26, the official said. The ship was kept in port as investigators conducted extensive interviews with the crew members. Based on a tip they interviewed a sailor who ultimately admitted to placing the noose at the rack.
That sailor has been removed from the ship, which has been underway since Feb. 1, the official said. The suspect in the case does not have a history of making racist statements but nothing can be ruled out as the NCIS investigation is ongoing.
Andrew Dyer of the San Diego Union-Tribune first reported on Tuesday about the noose incident aboard the Lake Champlain. Navy Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman, a spokeswoman for Naval Surface Forces Pacific, confirmed that an investigation into the incident is underway.
“The Navy takes all allegations of sailor misconduct and racial discrimination seriously,” Schwegman said in a statement. “Due to the ongoing investigation, we will not provide further comment.”
Jeff Houston, an NCIS spokesman, declined to comment about the matter on Wednesday because the investigation is still ongoing.
News about the noose aboard the Lake Champlain broke the day before a Navy task force released its final report on efforts to eliminate racial and gender barriers for sailors.
“As a Navy – uniform and civilian, active and reserve – we cannot tolerate discrimination of any kind, and must engage in open and honest conversations with each other and take action,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said in a statement about the report.
“We have fallen short in the past by excluding or limiting opportunity for people on the basis of race, sexual orientation, sexual identity, gender or creed,” Gilday continued. “Our Navy must continue to remove barriers to service, and most importantly, be a shining example of a workforce centered on respect, inclusive of all. Simply put, all Sailors – uniformed and civilian – and applicants for accession to the Navy must be treated with dignity and respect above all else.”
Featured image: USS Lake Champlain sits anchored off the southern coast of California on April 11, 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy M. Black.)