Normally I’d headline this Hot Air-style as “too bad to check,” but as it turns out, I don’t need to check. The American experts on this topic have already checked it out … the US Navy. Writing in the Navy Times, Sam Fellman reports that the backdrop during the Democratic National Convention salute to veterans displayed Russian warships rather than American — and that the Navy can actually tell the difference:
On the last night of the Democratic National Convention, a retired Navy four-star took the stage to pay tribute to veterans. Behind him, on a giant screen, the image of four hulking warships reinforced his patriotic message.
But there was a big mistake in the stirring backdrop: those are Russian warships.
While retired Adm. John Nathman, a former commander of Fleet Forces Command, honored vets as America’s best, the ships from the Russian Federation Navy were arrayed like sentinels on the big screen above.
These were the very Soviet-era combatants that Nathman and Cold Warriors like him had once squared off against.
“The ships are definitely Russian,” said noted naval author Norman Polmar after reviewing hi-resolution photos from the event. “There’s no question of that in my mind.”
One might think that this takes quite a bit of technical expertise … and that’s true, to a point:
For example, the ship in the foreground, on the far right, has a square radar antenna at the top of its masthead. That is the MR-700 Podberezovik 3-D early warning radar, commonly identified as “Flat Screen” for its appearance, a three-dimensional early warning radar mounted on the Kerch, said Eric Wertheim, editor of “Combat Fleets of the World.”
Similarly, the third ship has a MR-310 “Head Net” air search radar, shaped like two off-set bananas, at its masthead and is mostly likely the guided missile destroyer Smetlivyy. The first two ships seem to be Krivak-class frigates, but it’s hard to discern from the silhouette, experts said.
But after that point, it becomes rather obvious, at least to everyone but the oblivious:
But the fact they are Russian ships is not in doubt. In addition to the ship’s radar arrays and hulls, which are dissimilar from U.S. warships, the photo features one more give-away: a large white flag with a blue ‘X’ at the ships’ sterns.
Polmar, who authored “The Naval Institute Guide to the Soviet Navy,” recognized the blue ‘X’-mark: “The X is the Cross of St. Andrew’s, which is a Russian Navy symbol,” Polmar said. (An anchored U.S. warship, by contrast, flies the American flag on its stern.)
How difficult is it to find pictures of ships from the US Navy? The Navy has a Flickr account with thousands of pictures for anyone to use, including a set specific to its ships at sea. For instance, here’s a terrific picture of the USS Abraham Lincoln with F/A-18 Hornets flying formation over it, and two Golden Falcon helicopters firing flares in its wake:
Not everyone knows ship silhouettes, but one might think that the DNC would at least recognize the lack of an American flag on a naval vessel — or at least know to go to official US military sites to get pictures of the US military.