CAVASSHIPS Podcast [Mar 19, ’22] Episode 40…Selling The Navy


Welcome to the CavasShips Podcast with Christopher P. Cavas and Chris Servello…a weekly podcast looking at naval and maritime events and issues of the day – in the US, across the seas and around the world. This Week…Is the US Navy an effective advocate for seapower? Is it an effective advocate for itself? The question isn’t new – the service has been struggling with the issue for decades. We’ll talk with Ryan Wadle, the author of a remarkable book that examines the history of US Navy public relations between the World Wars, and who found many striking similarities between the issues of the 1920s and 1930s and today.

In this Week’s Squawk Chris Servello discusses the Navy’s communications strategy.

Please send us feedback by DM’ing @CavasShips or @CSSProvision or you can email or

This Week’s Naval Round Up: The aircraft carrier HARRY S TRUMAN continued operating in the Ionian Sea region of the Mediterranean Sea in company with France’s CHARLES DE GAULLE and Italy’s CAVOUR. Carrier Air Wing ONE Strike Fighters from the Truman have been flying an average of more than 80 sorties a day from the ship, patrolling NATO borders as far north as Lithuania as Russia’s war on Ukraine continues. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro on March 17 visited the TRUMAN at sea to view operations of the task group which also included the Greek frigate HYDRA.

In war news there were no major naval developments. Russian warships in the Black Sea continue to bombard targets in Ukraine with cruise missiles, and one of those small ships, the corvette VASILY BYKOV, widely reported to have been hit and set on fire off Odessa on March 7, was seen returning to the Sevastopol naval base on March 16 showing no signs of damage. It’s not clear if the ship seen burning on March 7 was misidentified or if there is another explanation.

NATO Exercise Cold Response is taking place in and off northern Norway, with naval forces led by the British aircraft carrier PRINCE OF WALES. Russian northern fleet commanders were briefed by NATO commanders in early February about the exercise, but at least four major Russian warships, including the large nuclear-powered cruiser PYOTR VELIKY, are in the area observing NATO operations. Led by Norway, Cold Response is the largest western military exercise north of the Arctic Circle since the 1980s. 27 nations, including non-NATO countries Sweden and Finland, are taking part. The Russians issued NOTAM Notices to Airmen for March 15 to 17 warning of live-fire exercises to take place over a large area off the northern Norwegian Coast, although outside the Cold Response exercise area. Russia issued similar warning notices in 2018 during NATO Trident Juncture exercises in Norway.

The USS KEARSARGE Amphibious Ready Group with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed from the US East Coast on March 17. The amphibious ships GUNSTON HALL and ARLINGTON make up the Group along with the KEARSARGE.

In new ship news, the attack submarine MONTANA SSN794 was delivered to the US Navy on March 12 from Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat. MONTANA is the 21st Virginia-class submarine to be delivered. And on March 11 HII’s Ingalls Shipyard delivered the amphibious transport dock FORT LAUDERDALE LPD28, first of a modified version of the San Antonio-class ships. Both the MONTANA and FORT LAUDERDALE will be formally commissioned later this year.

Servello Squawk:

When it comes to providing and maintaining a Navy, as stipulated in Article 1sect 8 of the Constitution…I’m convinced of two things -you get the Navy that you argue for and you operate the Navy you pay for.

Central in both of these is the foundation of what you believe in…the story, the narrative…the so what.

Free advice…have a so what…ground it in reality, in truth and make it easy to understand.

Throughout history when leaders had a thoughtful and shareable strategy or an easily conveyed why… the viscosity of public support and funding was high…things moved quickly; stuff got done.

Conversely without a solid plan or when they play “we have a secret”…dollars and votes flowed like molasses on a cold winter morning…programs got bogged down, ships sat, people left.

In the next few weeks our leaders will go before congress and either defend their portion of the budget or in some cases ask for adds.

 More free advice…have a good plan…a solid plan…one that you can easily and effectively link your budget requests to. Speak plainly and then reinforce that plan through action and engagement a thousand times over. Tell the Congress what you need, be candid and straight forward.

 Last bit of free advice…Truth makes for the best PR…if our leaders have a truth, can defend that truth and actively share the truth—this stuff sells itself.

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