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Focus on Service

Forging a Relationship

The Baltimore Ravens and USS Maryland

Deep within the belly of the ocean, USS Maryland (SSBN 738), an Ohio-class ballistic submarine, lurks, hidden from the world above. Its 154 Sailors go about their mission protecting the United States, but they might as well be ghosts to the civilian population.


A few people with the Baltimore Ravens, Maryland's official NFL team, wanted to show their ongoing support for their state's namesake vessel and its Sailors. Brandon Etheridge, the team's general counsel, heard about Maryland from a few close Navy friends. He pitched the idea of developing a relationship with the submarine to his colleagues.

“They talked to me about the relationship that the Green Bay Packers have with the USS Green Bay,” said Etheridge. “I honestly had no idea that there was a USS Maryland, and I think that not many people know about a lot of our submarines. So I looked up USS Maryland and saw that it was stationed down in Georgia and thought, 'Hey that would be a really cool thing to have a relationship with the namesake ship of our state.'”

Etheridge contacted Cmdr. Jesse Pruett, commanding officer of Maryland, in hopes that the crew would be able to visit the stadium and training facility during Maryland Fleet Week. Pruett was enthusiastic about the opportunity to raise the crew's pride and morale.

“The crew is extremely proud of the name of our ship,” said Pruett. “The ship is the third one in the United States Navy named for the state of Maryland, and the state has a very rich and long maritime tradition supporting the United States Navy all the way back to the Revolutionary War.”
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In fact, marked with the traditional dark blue and gold of the U.S. Navy, Maryland's blazon features the distinctive arms of the state, which derive from the arms of the Calvert-Crossland families. The black and gold design is the coat of arms from the Calvert line, while the red and white design is the coat of arms of the Crossland line. Beneath the shield in a scroll of blue displays the motto Timete Deum Solum et Ignominiam. (“Fear Only God and Dishonor.”)

“We're extremely proud of the state,” Pruett continued. “We're extremely proud of our ship, and my crew is extremely proud to be here for Maryland Fleet Week and start this great relationship with the Baltimore Ravens.”

The day kicked off with a tour of M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens. To their surprise, the crew's individual names were displayed on the giant video screen. They saw all of the hidden features of the stadium, from the locker room to the Under Armor suite on the highest level to the sidelines of the football field. Next, the crew and Etheridge met at the Baltimore Ravens Training Facility, nicknamed “The Castle.” The crew dined at the cafeteria and visited the gym, indoor field and other areas, before walking outside to watch the Ravens during practice.

“The staff has been incredibly nice and kind and doing whatever they can to make our visit as comfortable as possible,” said Lt j.g. Brad Franke. “Ending it with being out there on that practice field watching everyone practice and getting to meet some of the players at the end, meeting Coach [John] Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Hayden Hurst, Justin Tucker — all of the big names you see on TV — it was really cool to see everyone.”
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At the end of the tour, the crew took pictures with the football players and staff, answered questions about their military experience, and received a framed jersey for the ship from Dick Cass, Baltimore Ravens' president.

“We work for an NFL team and amazing facility, and just seeing the little things like the weight room and the field — they were so in awe by it and so captured, and it was cool for us to see that,” recalled Chad Steele, vice president of public relations. “Cmdr. Pruett said, 'Any inane thing that you do will be cool for these young Sailors,' but that works vice versa. When they went out on the field and they were watching practice, you would see the coaches and players looking over, seeing the uniform, and they were able to talk to them to see just how important it is for [the Sailors], and I think it gives our guys an appreciation for what they do.”

Steele and Etheridge hoped that the day's events solidified what will turn into a long-term relationship with the crew of the Maryland.

“We're proud to announce a formal partnership with the USS Maryland,” said Etheridge. “There's no limitation, in terms of time or duration. We hope to support the Maryland and its crew for a long time. So we hope to have them up here again for training camp, we hope to bring some of our players down to Georgia to visit the sub, we hope to take tours of it, we hope to send them all sorts of gifts from home, and to really forge a real long-lasting and meaningful partnership with our namesake state ship.”
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Pruett also hoped that the team and staff of the Baltimore Ravens will eventually be able to visit Kings Bay, Georgia, to visit the crew and the ship and see what work is like for the Sailors. In the end, it seems that both teams are ready to go the distance to make this friendship last for a long time.

“I think that there's a very strong connection between two highly trained, high-performing teams who just want to win,” concluded Pruett. “So, the opportunity for my crew to meet the staff and the players, I think, is just the beginning of a strong relationship between the ship and the team.”