CORONADO, Calif. – The Navy will spend as much as $600,000 to modify a 40-year-old barracks complex that resembles a swastika from the air, a gaffe that went largely unnoticed before satellite images became easily accessible on the Internet.
The Navy said officials noted the buildings' shape after the groundbreaking in 1967 but decided against changing it at the time because it wasn't obvious from the ground. Aerial photos made available on Google Earth in recent years have since revealed the buildings' shape to a wide audience.
The Navy approved the money to change the walkways, landscaping and rooftop solar panels of the four L-shaped barracks, used by members of the Naval Construction Force at the Navy's amphibious base at Coronado, near San Diego.
"We don't want to be associated with something as symbolic and hateful as a swastika," Scott Sutherland, deputy public affairs officer for Navy Region Southwest, told the Los Angeles Times.
Online commentators remarked widely about the buildings' resemblance to the Nazi symbol.
Dave vonKleist, host of "The Power Hour," a Missouri-based radio-talk show, said he wrote to military officials calling for action.
"I'm concerned about symbolism," he said. "This is not the type of message America needs to be sending to the world."
The Navy decided to alter the buildings' shape following requests this year by Anti-Defamation League regional director Morris Casuto and U.S. Rep. Susan Davis.
"I don't ascribe any intentionally evil motives to this," Casuto said of the design. "It just happened. The Navy has been very good about recognizing the problem. The issue is over."