Ships of the Navy

The inside story of a poster so popular it surprised even us 

That’s important work – but it’s his unofficial duties that really get people’s attention.

Lloyd is also the keeper of the RTX “Ships and Submarines of the United States Navy” poster, a 26-inch-by-31.75-inch inventory of every commissioned vessel in the U.S. Navy fleet.

That poster, whose history dates back to at least the mid-1990s, has become a runaway hit. It’s an in-demand giveaway at trade shows, a popular download on the RTX website and an engagement magnet on the business’ social media accounts.

‘They’re everywhere’

Pam Marshall could hardly believe it.

She was in her first year as a trade show lead at RTX, and she figured the poster would be just like any other giveaway. Until she looked around at Sea-Air-Space, a global maritime exposition hosted by the Navy League of the United States.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. Everyone wants one,” she said, recalling one man who said he was under orders from his boss not to leave the show without one. “It’s a collector’s item. People take pride in their knowledge of the ships, and service members like to point out which ones they’ve served on.”

“It’s a collector’s item. People take pride in their knowledge of the ships, and service members like to point out which ones they’ve served on.”

Pam Marshall, trade show lead on the RTX brand and marketing team

Check. Double-check. Check again.

Naval enthusiasts, to put it mildly, pay attention to detail.

Lloyd, who also served as an engineering duty officer in the Navy Reserve, is one of them. He puts painstaking work into making sure the poster gets things right.

“It’s a privilege to be a part of something that so many people enjoy,” he said. “With that privilege comes the responsibility to double- and triple-check the changes to ensure they’re accurate and that we’ve incorporated updates driven by any late-breaking news.”

That news could mean a change to federal funding that might affect a ship-build schedule, a ship getting decommissioned, or some other kind of shift in Naval strategy. Lloyd follows it all.

“If the Navy has named a ship, we have extremely high confidence it will be built – so it gets added,” he said, explaining his process. “Once a ship has been commissioned, it gets a USS designation, and that gets updated on the poster.”

The question of including certain ships can get complicated. The USS Pueblo, for example, was captured by North Korea in 1968 but never decommissioned. The USS Constitution is an 18th-century frigate, but it’s docked in Boston and in service for educational purposes. Both ships remain on the poster.

Passing on the tradition

Before Lloyd, the role of poster-keeper belonged to his Raytheon colleague, Dean Elliott, who had been working on it every year since 2001. When he retired in 2018, Elliott asked Lloyd to continue the tradition.

Elliott still feels a sense of pride when asked about it. Once, standing in front of the poster at a show, he struck up a conversation with an admiral. 

“The admiral found out I worked on the poster and said, ‘you’re doing your homework,’” recalled Elliott. “I told him … I try to keep up.”

After trade shows, extra posters come back to the RTX team in Virginia. Elliott used to bring a box to the local Veteran’s Administration hospital, while Lloyd now brings a box to the Navy Reserve office.

All eyes are on it

Betty Jensen, a 25-year veteran of RTX and the integrated marketing manager for Raytheon campaigns, collaborates with Lloyd and a design team to get the poster updated, printed and shipped out to the shows.

The poster comes up frequently in her work year-round. Recently, she recalled, a Web server was undergoing maintenance, and the downloadable poster was unavailable temporarily. The calls started coming in right away.

“It was only down for an hour or so,” said Jensen. “But it showed us that people really care about this poster and keep an eye on it.”

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ships and submarines listed in 2024

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posters downloaded in one year

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views after one RTX social media post

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years of posters produced

Carrier battle group at sea

Get your copy of the 2024 poster here