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….
Naval experts concluded the background was a photo composite of Russian ships that were overflown by what appear to be U.S. trainer jets. It remains unclear how or why the Democratic Party used what’s believed to be images of the Russian Black Sea Fleet at their convention. . . .
The veteran who spotted the error and notified Navy Times said he was immediately taken aback.“I was kind of in shock,” said Rob Barker, 38, a former electronics warfare technician who left the Navy in 2006. Having learned to visually identify foreign ships by their radars, Barker recognized the closest ship as the Kara-class cruiser Kerch . . . .
The background — featured in the carefully choreographed hour leading up to the president’s Sept. 6 speech accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination — showed four ships with radar designs not used in the U.S. fleet…. [T]he 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. [Naval historian Norman] 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.) Based on this specific group of these ship types, one naval expert concluded that this was most likely a photo of the Black Sea Fleet.