Sun, Baltimore officials missed the boat

September 01, 2010

I can't help but wonder why Navy Week in Baltimore was treated to a remarkable round of indifference by both city officials and this newspaper. USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41) pulled into the Inner Harbor virtually unnoticed by municipal officialdom, a remarkable reaction to a warship more than 600 feet from stem to stern. On Monday evening, Aug. 30, there was a major reception on board the host of which was Admiral John C. Harvey Jr. who, as Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, is one of the highest ranking officers in the Armed Forces. Admiral Harvey is a Baltimorean, born and bred. He was joined on board by the superintendent of the U. S. Naval Academy, the commanding officer of Bethesda Naval Hospital, and a host of other high ranking naval officers. But as far as the elected officials of Baltimore are concerned, they might just as well have been on the moon. And it's not that they weren't invited: They were; repeatedly.

Baltimore and Maryland are on the cusp of the War of 1812 bicentennial celebration in which the United States Navy will have a vital role to play. There will be at least two major naval events in Baltimore Harbor over the next few years. You would think that city officials (and The Baltimore Sun) would have at least a passing interest in what will happen and in the people who will make it happen.

Baltimore is a seafaring town. The original USF Constellation, "The Yankee Racehorse," was built here. During World War II there was a Baltimore Class of heavy cruisers. SSN-704, the nuclear powered submarine, was USS Baltimore. USS Fort McHenry is sister ship to the Whidbey Island. (Did I mention that Admiral Harvey was born and raised in Baltimore?)

The slogan of the United States Navy is "A Global Force For Good." Unfortunately here, in the birthplace of the Star-Spangled Banner, it has apparently become a global force to be ignored.

Alan Walden

The writer is president of the Baltimore Council, Navy League of the United States

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