The Navy said Friday an aircrew in the Pacific Northwest was responsible for creating lewd skydrawings.
The incident comes amid raised awareness about sexual harassment in the workplace and even assaults.
“The Navy apologizes to anyone who was offended by this unacceptable action,” a Navy spokesperson told CNBC in an email statement.
The event happened Thursday when an EA-18G Growler attack jet (a variant of the F/A-18) flew in the skies above Okanogan, a community about 200 miles Northeast of Seattle. The plane’s flying pattern “left a condensed air trail resembling an obscene image to observers on the ground,” the Navy spokesperson said.
The Navy promised a full investigation into the matter and possible action against the crew involved. The EA-18 aircraft involved was home-based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington.
“The Navy holds its aircrew to the highest standards and we find this absolutely unacceptable, of zero training value and we are holding the crew accountable,” Michael Welding, the base public affairs officer, said in a statement.
Social media was filled with reports discussing the incident and photographs showing the phallic sky images.
Separately, the Pentagon on Friday released data about sexual assaults at local installations, and it revealed the prevalence rates for men and women have gone down since 2012.
The prevalence rates of sexual assaults showed a decrease from 6.1 percent of active duty women in 2012 to 4.3 percent in 2016, the most recent period with available data. For active duty men, the prevalence of sexual assault went from 1.2 percent in 2012 to 0.6 percent in 2016.