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(Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part series. The Drift would like to welcome famous amphibian naval commentator CDR Salamander as the host of this week’s edition of The Drift, Vol. XXXIII. Next week, we’ll welcome Dean of the Naval Press Corps, Chris Cavas. They’re here to talk about one of our favorite topics: material condition. See you in June, Drifters!)

NAVASSA ISLAND: Good Evening Drifters,

It is an honor to cover OS2 Larter’s slack this week on The Drift as we slide on in to summer.

What is summer for? Well, hopefully you spent the last few months getting the dad-bod ready for the beach, updated the wardrobe, and have time scheduled to get our in public.

Why? Because summer is when you head out with friends and family to see and be seen. Vacations, visiting, festivals, or just a backyard BBQ with the neighbors.

Superficial or not, people will make assumptions about your physical, financial, and personal state by how you look, act, walk - and even smell.

As the landlord of The Drift outlined in Vol. XXVII: The Rust Dialogues on 19APR19, the superficial condition of a ship does more than just give you an indication of how corrosion control and preventive maintenance – and the required manpower to do the same – is on a warship, it has a deeper meaning.

Except when in an active shooting war – and even then – a primary mission of a navy is presence; showing the flag. To the citizens of its nation, the condition and performance of their navy does two things; first it shows that the navy is a good steward of taxpayers’ investment, and second it gives them piece of mind that if their navy sorties forward to defend the nation, odds are they are trained, manned, and equipped to do so.

No one hires a defense attorney whose hair is a mess, wears flip-flops, and shirt is stained with yesterday’s salsa – so too a nation will not be comfortable trusting its security to a navy that looks like it just came from the back corner of the mothball fleet of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.

Likewise, no coastal nation will be impressed with an ally or a competitor who huffs and puffs about the power of its navy, and then it shows up off the coast looking like a discarded ’58 Buick with a tree growing out of the wheel well.

So, what opportunities does our Navy have to show off its dad-bod this summer? Too late to get the gym membership now, so grab a tube, a floating cooler full of your beverage of choice and jump in to the Ichetucknee of the maritime NATSEC ecosystem.

On to a Salamander Edition of The Hotwash.

The Hotwash

Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1): Sailing with ships from the Great Britain, Germany, Poland, Spain, and Turkey - the USS GRAVELY (DDG 107) is representing the USN. GRAVELY is only 8.5 years old and she is sailing with the 38-year old Polish frigate KAZIMIERZ PULASKI (nee USS CLARK FFG-1), so she should be showing the flag well in all the high profile visits and exercises SNMG1 does. Right? Oh.:

Fleet Week: The national treasure that is NYC Fleet Week started at the end of May with USN, USGC and Royal Canadian Navy ships in attendance. It follows up Broward Navy Days earlier in May. East Coast and West Coast, a variety of cities have Fleet Week. Some, such as San Francisco, stopped and then restarted Fleet Week. These are exceptional opportunities, I just wish we could talk more of our allies to come visit. How did ‘ole Sal decide to become a naval officer? He had a chance to tour a Spanish frigate in the mid-70s as a grade schooler and was hooked. That was a lot more attractive of an idea, for me at least, than what our Marines are doing but that is just lazy me. To each their own:

Fleet Embeds: I know the last few years official navydom has retreated from engaging with the press and the general public, but with a new CNO perhaps we might see some changes at the margins. As part of explaining our Navy to the people it serves, why not expand the embed program? Is there some risk? Sure, but I will put my bet on our Sailors and Marines at sea impressing everyone. And if a well-meaning member of the press – not an agenda driven type – did find something that was not ideal, is that necessarily a bad thing? No, not really. If something is bad, that means it needs to be corrected. Leaders don’t avoid challenges, they embrace them. I don’t think that will be what will happen though. Heck, let’s look outside our own lifelines. What happens when a Canadian gets underway with a Danish warship? Nothing but goodness:

There we go Drifters! Thanks for your indulgence with your guest host. Get cleaned up, put on your best gear, impress the neighbors, and go make some friends.

In some ways, it really is that simple.

That’s it!


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