This past weekend, Rob and I took a day trip to Norfolk, VA for a very special military ceremony. The US Navy commissioned the USS Arlington on Saturday, April 6th. The USS Arlington is one of three namesake ships to commemorate the victims and heroes of 9/11. The USS New York was commissioned in 2009 and the USS Somerset is scheduled to be commissioned next year. The USS Arlington LPD 24 (landing platform/dock) will transport troops into war zones around the world and will be a constant reminder that the American spirit cannot be broken.
The ship’s name plate was made out of steel recovered from the Pentagon after the attack (top left picture below).
Members of the Arlington County Fire Department, Arlington County Police Department, and families of the victims that died at the Pentagon were invited to attend the ceremony. Rob was a first responder at the Pentagon on 9/11, so it was very special for us to attend such a meaningful ceremony honoring all of the heroes and victims. Members of the ACFD attended the event looking sharp!
The Commissioning Ceremony
The commissioning of a naval ship is a time honored tradition hundreds of years old. The ceremony marks the transition of the ship into active duty. The national anthem was played and then a representative read the commissioning directive. The American flag and commissioning pennant were then raised and the ship officially became a member of our naval fleet. The commissioning pennant is the very thin one at the top (center) of the picture below.
And seen again in the bottom right of the picture below (look closely, it’s as thin as the ropes that raise it!).
The prospective commanding officer read his orders, officially assumed command, and set the first watch. Then the ship’s sponsor (Joyce Rumsfeld) gave the first order: “Man our ship and bring her to life!”
At that point the crew rushed on board the ship and lined up along the railings.
The ship’s engines were turned on and they sounded the mighty horn!
Then the crew saluted as the colors were retired.
After the ceremony concluded, we were allowed to tour certain parts of the ship.
Rob in control of the bridge.
Four types of aircraft on the deck.
Although we didn’t get to see it, the ship has a “tribute room” to honor the 184 people killed at the Pentagon as well as the emergency personnel that responded to the attack.
I’m sure many of you are wondering if they smashed a bottle of champagne on the ship. No, wrong ceremony. But that did in fact happen at a different ceremony! The christening took place in March of 2011 and Joyce Rumsfeld had the honor of smashing the champagne bottle.