An F/A-18E Super Hornet attached to the Warhawks of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 97 prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist RJ Stratchko/Released)

The US Navy is coming down hard on a small training detachment aboard the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford after they were caught wearing an “unauthorized and inappropriate patch,” Katherine Hafner of reported.

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 mocking reference to one theory about the origins of the novel coronavirus, the report said.

“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.

This ‘bat patch’ worn by aviators aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford was deemed inappropriate by US Navy brass. Credit: Twitter.

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

“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, Virginia, and commissioned in 2017, is the first of its class and has been intermittently underway for carrier qualifications over the past few months, the report said.

The Ford-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ruben Reed/Released)