Defense Media Network

“Old Salt” Designation Passes to Vice Adm. Kurt Tidd



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, D.C.

Locklear, the recent Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, retired on June 30, 2015. Tidd is currently the Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs 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 (Ret.), 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.

Old Salt Award

The “Old Salt” award. U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyrell K. Morris

“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.

  • Adm. Lee Baggett, Jr., USN: Nov. 4, 1988 – Dec. 9, 1988
  • Rear Adm. Lawrence Layman, USN: Dec. 9, 1988 – Feb. 28, 1989
  • Vice Adm. Albert J. Herberger, USN: Feb. 28, 1989 – March 21, 1990
  • Vice Adm. Joseph S. Donnell III, USN: March 21, 1990 – Jan. 31, 1991
  • Adm. David E. Jeremiah, USN: Feb. 1, 1991 – Feb. 28, 1994
  • Vice Adm. David M. Bennett, USN: March 1, 1994 – Aug. 25, 1995
  • Vice Adm. Philip M. Quast, USN: Aug. 26, 1995 – Feb. 14, 1997
  • Rear Adm. George F. A. Wagner, USN: Feb. 15, 1997 – April 30, 1998
  • Rear Adm. George A. Huchting, USN: May 1, 1998 – Jan. 14, 1999
  • Rear Adm. Dennis R. Conley, USN: Jan. 14, 1999 – March 31, 1999
  • Rear Adm. James B. Ferguson III, USN: April 1, 1999 – June 1, 1999
  • Vice Adm. James F. Amerault, USN: June 2, 1999 – July 24, 2001
  • Vice Adm. Rodney Rempt, USN: July 25, 2001 – May 21, 2007
  • Adm. Michael Mullen, USN: May 22, 2001 – Sept. 30, 2011
  • Adm. John Harvey, USN: Oct. 1, 2011 – Sept. 14, 2012
  • Vice Adm. John Terence Blake, USN: Sept. 15, 2012 – Dec. 17, 2012
  • Vice Adm. Mike Lefever, USN: Dec. 17, 2012 – May 7, 2014
  • Adm. Samuel Locklear, USN: May 7, 2014 – June 22, 2015


Capt. Edward H. Lundquist, U.S. Navy (Ret.) is a senior-level communications professional with more than...