Monday, May 28, 2007

Navy PR 

I know little about the US Navy. I was in the army. However, I was impressed by the Navy's PR during its recent "Fleet Week" in New York Harbor. "Fleet Week" is an annual visitation by Navy ships and sailors to New York City. The event always garners headlines, and ship tours draw tens of thousands of old and young.

I had never gone on a ship tour before this past weekend, but I have now seen two destroyers and a cruiser. The sailors, men and women alike, were polite, enthusiastic about their duties and knowledgeable about the complex machines aboard a modern fighting craft. My daughter commented on how nice they were, and she was right. Their all-white uniforms are designed to impress as well -- and they do. It was easy to conclude that the safety of America on the seas is in good hands. I know that it was all a well-oiled PR and recruiting machine, but that made little difference. Even a cynic would be interested.

There was one downside to the tours that no amount of PR could overcome. Living on shipboard is not for the claustrophobic. Every inch of the vessels stored something. Hatches are small and ducking is common. We were escorted on one of the tours by a 6' 7" sailor whose head was perpetually bowed, and he still scraped lights and cable runs. It was a relief to get back to the pier and know someone else has decided to spend seven months at a time living in these steel containers.


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