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Pic: USS Ford aviators wore a patch depicting a bat as ‘China’s Newest Carrier.’ The Navy says they’ve been counseled.

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) conducts high-speed turns in the Atlantic Ocean on Oct. 29, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Connor Loessin)

Aviators in a small training detachment aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford were recently counseled by leadership after wearing an unauthorized and inappropriate patch, the Navy said.

Half of the patch, according to a photo on Twitter, included the aircraft carrier’s logo with the words “America’s Newest Carrier” and “Integrity at the Helm.” The other half, however, depicted an image of a bat with the words “China’s Newest Carrier,” a reference to one theory about the origins of the novel coronavirus.

“The patch in question was inappropriate and not consistent with uniform regulations, which state patches must be appropriate in nature and approved by commanding officers,” Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, spokeswoman for Naval Air Force Atlantic, said in an email Thursday.

Officials became aware of the patch a week ago, Cragg said in the email. It’s unclear where it came from.

“The small number of aviators who had the patch were counseled, and leadership made clear to everyone in the squadron that the patch was not authorized for wear,” she said.

The Ford, based in Norfolk and commissioned in 2017, is the first of its class and has been intermittently underway for carrier qualifications over the past few months.


© 2020 The Virginian-Pilot