An investigation is underway following the revelation that some sort of hidden camera was discovered by a female Marine in the women’s bathroom (head) aboard the USS Arlington, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, last month. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) has taken the lead on the investigation, which cites a “recording device in the head” in official documents but does not specify if the camera was intended to capture images or video.
“The command has taken, and will continue to take, all necessary actions to ensure the safety and privacy of the victim,” Cdr. Kyle Raines said. “The Navy/Marine Corps team takes all reports of sexual harassment seriously, and are committed to thoroughly investigating these allegations and providing resources and care to victims of sexual harassment.”
“To protect the legal rights and the privacy of all involved, we cannot release details, names or any other identifying information at this time,” Raines added.
This is not the first time secret recording devices have been found aboard a U.S. Navy ship. In 2015 it was revealed that sailors aboard the ballistic missile submarine USS Wyoming were conducting organized efforts to secretly record female sailors undressing, using cell phones and tablets that had been banned from use aboard the vessel. Over the span of three months, male sailors recorded their female counterparts in the changing rooms and showers aboard the Wyoming, in some instances multiple times in the same day.
“The abhorrent behavior of this small number of personnel is not indicative of the superior sailors that comprise these crews and the submarine force,” Capt. William Houston, head of Submarine Squadron 20, wrote about the incident at the time. That incident was considered an anomaly by many, especially considering the level of trust that traditionally develops among submariners due to their extremely close working conditions and the inherent dangers of their duty roles.
“The thing with the Wyoming is, to me that was such a shocking event,” Lt. Jennifer Carroll, who served aboard the ballistic missile submarine USS Maine, said of the Wyoming event. “It was completely 180-degrees out from what my experience was. I couldn’t really even fathom that one of our guys [would] do that to me.”
Every branch of the U.S. military has struggled with sexual assault, harassment, and issues of cultural acceptance within traditionally male-dominated occupational specialties. The U.S. Marine Corps drew global headlines in recent years following the revelation that a group of current and former Marines operated a Facebook group called “Marines United” that collected and shared nude images of female service members, often without their consent.