The “Old Salt” designation, honoring the Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) serving on active duty with the earliest Surface Warfare Qualification, passed from Adm. Sam Locklear to Vice Adm. Kurt Tidd at a June 22, 2015 ceremony at Washington, DC.
Locklear, the recent Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, retired on June 30, 2015. Tidd is currently the Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff. Locklear has been the “Old Salt” since May 2014.
“In the Navy, we have an expression for a respected, experienced and knowledgeable mariner. We call them ‘Old Salts,’” said Vice Adm. Barry McCullough, U.S. Navy (Retired), president of the Surface Navy Association. “It is fitting that we acknowledge our lore, customs and traditions, and honor the most senior of all our active duty Surface Warriors with the ‘Old Salt’ designation.”
McCullough said the ceremony—held in the Pentagon
and attended by friends, shipmates and fellow surface warriors—was a “tribute to tradition.” Several other “Old Salts” were in attendance.
“The ‘Old Salt’ award originated in 1988, when the Surface Navy Association wanted to honor the Surface Warfare Officer with the earliest date of receiving the coveted warfare qualification, and more importantly, the ideals of the Surface Warfare Community, the core values of our Navy, and the tradition of the Surface Warrior,” McCullough said.
Locklear earned his SWO designation in June 1979 while serving as main propulsion assistant on the USS William V. Pratt (DDG 44). Tidd received his SWO qualification in June 1980 while serving aboard aboard USS Semmes (DDG 18).
The honor is accompanied by a bronze statue depicting a World War II Naval officer on the pitching deck of his ship. It is cast from metal salvaged from historic U.S. Naval ships, most notably the battleship USS Maine. Inscribed on the trophy’s base are the words of Admiral Arleigh Burke, “Keeper of the Seas” and “Dedicated to Service.” The custodian of the "Old Salt" upon his or her retirement passes the responsibility to instill those values and ideals in the Surface Warfare community to the next “Old Salt." A miniature replica of the statue is presented to each “Old Salt” as he retires.
Both Locklear and Tidd saluted the many junior SWOs in attendance. “Maybe someday one of you will be standing up here accepting this award,” McCullough said.
Since 1988, there have been 19 recipients of the “Old Salt” award.
Old Salt Recipients
4 November 1988 – 9 December 1988: Admiral Lee Baggett, Jr., USN
9 December 1988 – 28 February 1989: Rear Admiral Lawrence Layman, USN
28 February 1989 – 21 March 1990: Vice Admiral Albert J. Herberger, USN
21 March 1990 – 31 January 1991: Vice Admiral Joseph S. Donnell III, USN
1 February 1991 – 28 February 1994: Admiral David E. Jeremiah, USN
1 March 1994 – 25 August 1995: Vice Admiral David M. Bennett, USN
26 August 1995 – 14 February1997: Vice Admiral Philip M. Quast, USN
15 February 1997 – 30 April 1998: Rear Admiral George F. A. Wagner, USN
1 May 1998 – 14 January 1999: Rear Admiral George A. Huchting, USN
14 January 1999 – 31 March 1999: Rear Admiral Dennis R. Conley, USN
1 April 1999 – 1 June 1999: Rear Admiral James B. Ferguson III, USN
2 June 1999 - 24 July 2001: Vice Admiral James F. Amerault, USN
25 July 2001- 21 May 2007: Vice Admiral Rodney Rempt, USN
22 May 2001- 30 Sept 2011: ADM Michael Mullen, USN
1 Oct 2011 - 14 September 2012: Admiral John Harvey, USN
15 September 2012 - 17 December 2012: Vice Admiral John Terence Blake, USN
17 December 2012 – 7 May 2014: Vice Admiral Mike Lefever, USN
7 May 2014 – 22 June 2015: Admiral Samuel Locklear, USN
Current: Vice Admiral Kurt Tidd, USN