Black sailor finds noose on San Diego-based warship, sparking investigation

The  USS Lake Champlain
A suspect in the incident has been removed from the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain, which left San Diego on Monday.
(Petty Officer 1st Class Arthurgwain Marquez / U.S. Navy)

The Navy is investigating after a Black sailor found a noose on his rack last week aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain.

A Navy official with knowledge of the incident said a San Diego-based sailor is under investigation and has been removed from the ship, which left San Diego on Monday.

Citing an ongoing investigation, a Naval Surface Force Pacific spokeswoman confirmed in a written statement that the object resembled a noose but declined to comment on details of the case.


The Naval Criminal Investigative Service “is investigating an incident aboard USS Lake Champlain ... where an object resembling a noose was found in a berthing area,” said Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman.

On a ship, a berthing contains multiple racks, or assigned beds.

“The Navy takes all allegations of sailor misconduct and racial discrimination seriously,” Schwegman said. “Due to the ongoing investigation, we will not provide further comment.”

The sailor found the noose on his rack Jan. 26, according to a Navy official who was not authorized to comment on the investigation. The ship’s leaders were investigating the incident when the NCIS received an anonymous tip and began its own investigation, the official said.

NCIS agents interviewed several crew members over the weekend; this led to a suspect. The unidentified sailor admitted to investigators to leaving the noose on the rack as a joke, the Navy official said.

A planned underway period for the Lake Champlain was delayed several days for the investigation. There were no charges filed as of Tuesday.

The incident comes to light on the eve of the Navy releasing its much anticipated report on race, diversity and inclusion among sailors. The study launched last summer in the midst of racial justice protests across the country.


Dyer writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.