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Navy Spirit Ad Not a Reference to Skywriting Debacle, Officials Say

  • Screen grab from video announcing the Navy’s news recruiting slogan. (Image: Navy)
    Screen grab from video announcing the Navy’s news recruiting slogan. (Image: Navy)
  • The Navy admitted to being behind a phallic image that appeared in the skies near Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. Twitter screenshot
    The Navy admitted to being behind a phallic image that appeared in the skies near Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. Twitter screenshot
  • Screen grab from video announcing the Navy’s news recruiting slogan. (Image: Navy)
    Screen grab from video announcing the Navy’s news recruiting slogan. (Image: Navy)

A new spirit video released this week ahead of the Army-Navy game shows the commanding officer of the carrier Abraham Lincoln maneuvering the hulking ship to etch the words "Beat Army" in the waves.

Released just weeks after the Navy grounded two EA-18G Growler aircrew members from Electronic Attack Squadron 130 for drawing a giant phallus in the sky over Washington state, the video raised some eyebrows.

But, officials say, that's just bad timing.

"[Aboard] Lincoln, they've been shooting and editing this spot for more than a month," a Navy spokesperson told Military.com. "Any similarity between the spirit spot and the VAQ-130 incident is purely coincidence."

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Navy leadership was decidedly not amused by its pilots' recent skywriting antics. The two aviators were allowed to keep their Wings of Gold but received administrative punishment, the service confirmed earlier this month.

The commander of Naval Air Forces, Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker,, condemned the "sophomoric and immature antics" of the aircrew as having no place in naval aviation.

To the consternation of some, however, the story of the lewd skywriting incident continues to spawn humor on the internet.

A Christmas ornament from Planeform commemorating the incident sold out in days. On Twitter, a photoshopped version of an Army-Navy game promotional poster that included the infamous sky art quickly went viral.

When the Lincoln spirit spot was published Monday, some commenters were quick to draw a connection.

"Navy is secretly proud of #skypenis," one wrote.

Another expressed concern about the timing. "Maybe bad form considering two aviators were recently disciplined for writing in the sky?"

Regardless, nearly all of the almost 1,000 comments on the video as of Tuesday were upbeat and most were complimentary.

Though the Army and the Navy have for years tried to outdo each other in creativity and style in the spirit videos, the Lincoln spot was elaborate by any measure.

Now at homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, following a September hurricane relief mission, the Lincoln was at sea when the spot was filmed.

It features a wide range of U.S. Naval Academy graduates on the ship's crew, including commanding officer Capt. Putnam Browne and executive officer Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt.

Sailors are shown being thrown from side-to-side as the carrier makes hard turns to carve the letters "Beat Army" in the water.

"More speed!" Browne bellows.

One Facebook commenter gave props to the crew for planning and execution.

"Well-played, crew. Well-played, indeed," he wrote. "Bravo. Zulu. #GoNavy #atleastitwasntapenis."

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.