The bosun’s whistle shrieked Shift Colors. We sailed out of the harbor in Gdynia, Poland, as a unified, multinational force on a balmy morning in early June—our flagship, the USS San Antonio (LPD-17), gracefully cutting through the still water as the conning officer called the helmsman to make slight rudder corrections.
The rest of the Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2015 force followed us out to the Baltic Sea that morning. First order of business for what would be the 43rd iteration of this long-running exercise: Conduct a PhotoEx. “Standby . . . execute.” Forty-nine ships, sailing in perfect formation, synchronized, steaming a few hundred yards from each other.
A Royal Navy photographer and videographer captured it all from the air. Without words of narration or caption information, the video and photos of an uninterrupted line of ships powerfully spoke exactly what we wanted to say. Those images went in every which way across the vast ocean of today’s digital-media spectrum.