USS Russell Navigates Uncharted Waters with Ship's Blog
By Electronics Technician 3rd Class Tyler Kirkland, Abraham Lincoln Strike Group Public Affairs
USS Russell's (DDG 59) Web log is having an impact on the World Wide Web since its debut two weeks ago, reaching 5,000 hits April 7.
The Web log which started and coincided with the ship's deployment as part of the Abraham Lincoln Strike Group.
Lt. Cmdr. Chris van Avery, Russell's executive officer, reported aboard the guided-missile destroyer looking to tell a story. The story is about the life of Sailors at sea and their contributions to the war on terrorism and the execution of the Navy's Maritime Strategy. The result is "The Destroyermen," a Web log, or "blog," dedicated to the life of Russell and her crew.
With a new post nearly every day, this method of storytelling has proven to be a hit for Russell and the Navy.
"When I discussed it with the chain of command and the public affairs community, I don't think any of us expected such a positive reaction from the public," van Avery said.
Freelance journalist and a long-time observer of how the armed services use and react to the alternative media, David Axe, stated on his personal blog, "War is boring."
However, Axe was more complimentary about Russell's blog.
"With this sweet little blog, the Navy is now in second place in the race to harness the power of the Internet for educating the American people about the military," Axe wrote on his blog, noting and crediting the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs capturing first place.
Another new media observer and former Pentagon spokesman, Steve Field, noted on "The D-Ring," his Web log, "I've got to say that I am thoroughly impressed with [the] blog started aboard [Russell]. It works because it is authentic. It's got a real voice."
"The other services have some catching up to do, it looks like …" he concluded.
Lt. Cmdr. van Avery was not the first active duty Sailor to start a Web log, as some of the links on the site prove. But, he was one of the first to have the support of his chain of command in the endeavor.
The blog welcomes personal accounts of life at sea and photos from any of Russell's Sailors who wish to contribute. To date, six of the ship's 250 crew members and the Navy College Program Afloat for College Education instructor have participated.
The audience van Avery considers most important, though – the crew and their families and friends – have been especially pleased.
A comment left by the wife of a Sailor out to sea expressed gratitude for the blog and her appreciation for the information it provides.
Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Brian Mittenburg said, "This Web log is a really cool idea."
It really hits the nail on the head, and I look forward to reading more like these when my career has come to its conclusion," he added.
Russell is homeported in and is currently on a scheduled deployment transiting to the 5th Fleet area of operations with the Abraham Lincoln Strike Group in support of the Maritime Security Operations.
The Web log is viewable at destroyermen.blogspot.com.