An electronic warfare plane from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in western Washington state created sky writings in the shape of male genitals in the skies over the rural community on Thursday.
Many residents spotted the contrails in the clear blue skies above the central Washington town of 2,500 people. Witnesses took photos and placed them on social media platforms, where they were widely viewed.
"The actions of this aircrew are wholly unacceptable and antithetical to Navy core values" said a statement issued Friday by NAS Whidbey Island.
"We have grounded the aircrew and are conducting a thorough investigation," the statement said, "and we will hold those responsible accountable for their actions."
"The Navy apologizes for this irresponsible and immature act, and anyone who was offended by this unacceptable action," the statement said.
The aircraft involved was an E/A-18 Growler assigned to Whidbey Island, the Navy said. The carrier-based plane carries a two-person crew.
The plane flew over the small town in a pattern "that left a condensed air trail resembling an obscene image to observers on the ground," the Navy said.
The names of the air crew were not released.