Florida Republican wishes 'Happy Birthday to the U.S. Navy' with picture of Russian Battlecruiser

A Florida Republican wished the U.S. Navy a "happy birthday" with a picture of a Russian military ship in a social media post.

Rep. Brian Mast of Florida uploaded a battlecruiser stock image with the message "Happy Birthday U.S. Navy" and signed the picture with his name on Sunday as the force celebrated its 244th birthday.

But little did the U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient know that the ship was not part of the U.S. Navy's fleet, but the Russian battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy, as first revealed by Politico journalist Dave Brown.

The image of the battlecruiser appears to have come from Shutterstock, where it was uploaded by Russian picture agency Fotogrin and simply labeled: "A warship on the horizon. Rocket cruiser." Identifying marks on the ship have also been removed from the stock image.

After journalists and social media users identified the ship yesterday, Mast quickly removed the picture from his Twitter account.

Politico deputy defense editor Dave Brown was first to point out his mistake, tweeting: "That's the Russian battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy."

Chris Cavas, a naval warfare journalist, further confirmed the ship's identity. He said: "Great to see so many US #Navy #birthday wishes on Twitter today. I've seen pics of Dutch, Australian and French ships and more, but this one is the best.

"Nice to know REP Brian Mast R-FLA is a strong proponent of the #Russian Navy, whose battlecruiser PYOTYR VELIKYY is shown."

Other Twitter users were quick to jump on the mistake and mock the Republican veteran.

"This is even better than the *other* Florida Man Legislator, @mattgaetz, putting Navy fighters in his "Happy birthday, Air Force" video a few weeks back," said U.S. Naval Institute's Proceedings Podcast co-host Ward Carroll. "These guys love the troops SO much."

TV producer Melissa Jo Peltier said: "Uh oh. Idiot or trolling for Mother Russia?"

"The two great traditions of Oct. 13: Celebrating the U.S. Navy's birthday and tweeting out photos of Russian ships to celebrate the U.S. Navy's birthday," Politico deputy defense editor Brown said sharing his earlier tweet.

Florida Rep. Mast replaced his earlier post with another birthday message. Sharing an official U.S. Navy post, the congressman said: "Happy birthday to the US Navy! To the men and women who serve to keep our waters safe, we thank you."

The Republican served with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, where he lost both his legs and one finger in a 2010 IED explosion while working as a bomb disposal expert.

He is serving his second term in the House of Representatives and is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Florida Republican wishes 'Happy Birthday to the U.S. Navy' with picture of Russian Battlecruiser | U.S.