Twitter users jeer US Pacific Fleet for July 4 graphic featuring Russian planes, warship
Stars and Stripes July 5, 2023
The U.S. Pacific Fleet apparently tweeted, then deleted, a Fourth of July message that depicted silhouettes of a Russian warship and fighter jets against an American flag backdrop.
Tuesday’s message consisted of a graphic image of a service member rendering a salute, the words “Happy 4th Of July,” and silhouettes of the ship and five fighters in a V-formation above a sea lit by the sun at the horizon.
Pacific Fleet, headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, did not respond to phone and email messages on Tuesday, a federal holiday.
Blake Herzinger, a defense researcher at the University of Sydney and a Navy Reserve officer, tweeted the fleet’s graphics with a message of his own on Tuesday.
“US Pacific Fleet Don’t Post Russian Ships and Aircraft on Independence Day Challenge 2023: Failed,” he wrote to his 22,500 followers.
The post had been retweeted more than 300 times and attracted almost 100 comments by Tuesday evening in Hawaii. Many comments mocked Pacific Fleet for the flub, although some noted that the Russian military regularly makes the same sort of error.
In a follow-up, Herzinger, a former civilian adviser to Pacific Fleet, tweeted a photograph resembling the warship depicted in the graphic and identified it as “a Kashin-class DDG,” a Soviet Navy guided-missile destroyer.
The aircraft silhouettes in the graphic, he wrote in another follow-up tweet, resemble Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighters.
Pacific Fleet replaced the deleted tweet with one that includes a photograph of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier and submarine and the message: “Happy Independence Day! Celebrating life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for 247 years, and those who stand to protect.”
However, numerous commenters reminded the fleet of its error by posting screenshots of the original graphic. One person included a short video of dancing Russian soldiers.
Foreign military equipment has been confused with U.S. gear in past social media posts.
In February 2022, as Russian forces were preparing to invade Ukraine, city officials in Santa Monica, Calif., tweeted a photo of a Russian MiG-29 fighter jet to promote an Air Force flyover during the Super Bowl.
In October 2019, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, a Florida Republican, mistakenly used a picture of a Russian warship in a tweet celebrating the 244th birthday of the U.S. Navy. The former Army staff sergeant’s post featured the Pyotr Velikiy, a Kirov-class battlecruiser in the Russian navy. It was deleted after members of the media flagged the error, The Hill reported that month.