Fake News: US Aircraft Carrier With Sailors NOT Positioned To Spell Out 'F--k Iran'

Fact Check

  • by: Alan Duke
Fake News: US Aircraft Carrier With Sailors NOT Positioned To Spell Out 'F--k Iran'

Does a photo of a U.S. aircraft carrier show sailors positioned to spell out "F--k Iran"? No, that's not true: The image that spread virally on social media after the U.S. military killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani on January 3, 2020, and Iran vowed retailiation, was digitally altered from an aerial photo taken by the Navy in 2002. The original photo showed the sailors lined up on the flight deck of the of the USS Abraham Lincoln to spell out "Ready Now."

The photo was widely shared, including in a tweet (archived here) where it was posted on January 4, 2020, under the title "Y'all with me here?" with this faked photo:

fake f iran.jpg

This is what social media users saw:

This is an original photo showing the real aircraft carrier posted on the U.S. Navy's photo archive website:


This is the caption information for the real photo:

Sep. 11, 2002 -- Responding to President Bush's admonition to "Be Ready," Sailors on the 4½-acre flight deck of USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) spell out their response as the carrier, her embarked Carrier Air Wing Fourteen (CVW 14) and her Battle Group report on station to support Operation Enduring Freedom. The Abraham Lincoln Battle Group would relieve the USS George Washington Battle Group, which was scheduled to return to Norfolk, Va., shortly afterwards. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Gabriel Piper. [020911-N-6020P-021].

Buzzfeed reporter Craig Silverman tweeted about the hoax, and others followed with detailed reasons to know its old:

Aviation buffs will be quick to note the F-14 Tomcats on the aft deck. That places the photo at 2006 or before. (F-14 was finally retired that year)

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  Alan Duke

Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke co-founded Lead Stories after ending a 26-year career with CNN, where he mainly covered entertainment, current affairs and politics. Duke closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat. Duke also co-hosted a daily podcast with former HLN host Nancy Grace, "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" and hosted the podcast series "Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes & Villains." You'll also see Duke in many news documentaries, including on the Reelz channel, CNN and HLN.

Read more about or contact Alan Duke

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