DNC apologizes for using image of Russian warships at convention

The organizers of the Democratic National Convention apologized on Wednesday for accidentally using an image of Soviet-era Russian warships in its backdrop during a tribute to veterans at last week's convention in Charlotte, N.C.

The ships were shown on a screen behind 50 veterans assembled onstage Sept. 6 during a presentation by retired Adm. John Nathman.

"Due to vendor error, incorrect images appeared briefly on screen behind fifty-one veterans during the convention and the DNCC apologizes for this mistake," a Democratic National Convention Committee spokeswoman said in a statement to the Navy Times. "This error should not distract from the words of Admiral Nathman and others who spoke to President Obama's strong record on issues that impact those who have served our nation."

The DNC also took the opportunity to take a swipe at Mitt Romney's speech at last month's Republican National Convention.

"We're proud of the service and sacrifice of our veterans and military families," the DNC said. "And while they were an important and active part our of convention, Mitt Romney failed to even mention them in his speech in Tampa."

The warships—believed to be part of the Russian Black Sea Fleet—were first spotted by Rob Barker, a former naval electronics warfare technician, who notified the Navy Times.

Naval historians solicited by the Navy Times confirmed the background showed four ships "with radar designs not used" in the U.S. fleet.

"The ships are definitely Russian," naval author Norman Polmar told the Navy Times on Tuesday after reviewing photos from the event. "There's no question of that in my mind."

More from the Navy Times:

For example, the ship in the foreground, on the far right, has a square radar antenna at the top of its masthead. That is the MR-700 Podberezovik 3-D early warning radar, commonly identified as "Flat Screen" for its appearance, a three-dimensional early warning radar mounted on the Kerch, said Eric Wertheim, editor of "Combat Fleets of the World."

Similarly, the third ship has a MR-310 "Head Net" air search radar, shaped like two off-set bananas at its masthead and is mostly likely the guided missile destroyer Smetlivyy. The first two ships seem to be Krivak-class frigates, but it's hard to discern from the silhouette, experts said.