Sunday, November 21, 2010

In Case You Missed It

The Navy's newest destroyer was commissioned in Wilmington North Carolina on Saturday, bearing the name of a Virginia man who was at the forefront of integrating the nation's military ranks.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer is named in honor of the late Vice Admiral Samuel Gravely. His 38-year career included milestones such as being the country's first black person to command a Navy warship.

Gravely arrives in Wilmington. Photo US Navy

Officers stand ready to bring the ship alive Photo US Navy

On the command of Gravely's widow the ship comes to life. Photo US Navy

One of USS Gravely's sailors stands with his daughter Photo US Navy.

Gravely died in 2004 at age 82. The native of Richmond, Virgina also was the first black person to command an American warship in combat, the first black person to attain flag rank, become vice admiral and command a numbered fleet - the Third Fleet.

"Wherever this ship sails, this ship will honor his legacy of excellence, of service and of perseverance," Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, said in his keynote speech.

Alma Gravely served as sponsor of the ship named for her late husband. At her command of "man our ship and bring her to life," the 275-sailor crew ran through the crowd on the dock, boarded the ship and lined up on the deck.

The USS Gravely is 510 feet long and weighs 9,500 tons. Its four gas-turbine propulsion plants can power the ship to speeds above 30 knots.

The last Navy vessel commissioned in Wilmington was the Virginia class submarine (SSN 777) USS North Carolina in May 2008. The USS North Carolina stationed at Pearl Harbor.

Cedar's Take Away - If you have never witnessed a commissioning you are missing out on a big show. While it is indeed all for show it is still a lot of fun. Since the vessel has been in operation for the better part of two years at this point, she's been very operational but it is still a remarkable moment when everyone charges to the rails and and things start to spool up.

Steam escapes, radars turn, guns swing into position and flags are run up the halyards. Compared to the commissioning of USS North Carolina which was nothing more than "its on" since nuclear ships are always on, and there is not much more that is visible this was show I'm sorry I missed. Something from the Carolina's past that used to be pretty routine.


Anonymous said...

There's a pretty good youtube video of this. Pretty cool

Anonymous said...

One day I'd love to see a commissioning in person. I did see some video of the recent commissioning of the USS Jason Dunham in Ft Lauderdale, Fl. This one was very emotional because this destroyer was named after Marine Corporal Jason Dunham, who was the first Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor since Vietnam, for his heroic actions in Iraq. I loved seeing his dress blues on display in the galley, but seeing his mother give the order to board the ship was a tear jerker.