USS Colorado Christening December 3, 2016

On December 3rd, USS Colorado was Christened by Ship’s Sponsor, Annie Mabus, in ceremonies at General Dynamics Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, Connecticut.

The Christening is the ceremony where the ship is officially given it’s name by the sponsor and is blessed before it enters the water. In the past the submarine immediately slid into the water after a bottle of wine was broken over it’s hull. Modern submarines however are too large for this so the “float off” is now a separate event.

Colorado winery Balistreri Vineyards produced a special batch of sparkling wine for the Christening. To honor the Battleship USS Colorado (BB 45), which was christened in 1923 with a bottle of “muddy Colorado River water”, the sparkling wine rested in a bucket filled with ice made from Colorado River water.

Pouring Colorado River water into the wine bucket

Seven veterans of WWII service on Battleship Colorado were present and, as part of the ceremony, presented to the crew pens made of teak decking salvaged from the battleship when it was decommissioned in 1947. The decking, as one veteran put it, was “washed in the blood of our brothers.” Battleship Colorado saw heavy action during the war earning seven Battle Stars during which 93 men lost their lives.

The state of Colorado was well represented at the Ceremony. Over 100 persons traveled from the Centennial State to witness and celebrate the event. The Colorado contingent consisted of members of the Commissioning Committee and several sponsors, State Senators Larry Crowder, Mary Hodge and Bob Gardner, submarine veterans, crew member families and other submarine supporters. Members of Congress from Colorado present were Representatives Mike Coffman, Ed Perlmutter and Doug Lamborn. The three Congressmen were part of the official party, each providing remarks during the program. Other remarks were from shipyard officials, Congressmen and Senators from Connecticut and Rhode Island and Governor Daniel Mallory of Connecticut.

Crew in Formation

Rear Admiral Michael Jabalay introduced the principal speaker, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. Secretary Mabus, proud father of the sponsor, gave tribute to the Veterans and the Crew. The Secretary talked about why the sate Colorado was selected for the name of the submarine:

“… It is also one of my great privileges to name all our ships. And one of the things I think is important is to make that connection between the American people. And I think it’s particularly important, as has been mentioned, to connect the Navy to states like Colorado, which may be a little ways from the sea. (Laughter.) Colorado has given us Sailors and Marines and Soldiers and Airmen and Coast Guardsmen for years. The citizens of Colorado have given their sons and daughters in the defense of this country. And that name should be out around the world telling the story of Colorado.

The last Colorado, as you’ve heard, was commissioned in 1923, but went on to earn seven Battle Stars in the Pacific – Tarawa, Marshall Islands, Marianas, the Philippines, Okinawa. And after the war, she was assigned to Magic Carpet duty and brought more than 6,000 veterans home to their families. And now, almost 70 years since the last Colorado was decommissioned, it’s time. It’s time to have another Colorado, to have a submarine which will carry the legacy and the patriotism of the state of Colorado for decades to come. She and her crew will carry the American spirit, will carry the name Colorado worldwide. A lot of times Sailors aboard these ships are the only Americans people from outside this country will ever meet, and they’re great at that job as well.”

Annie’s remarks acknowledged the great honor and looked forward to her continuing relationship with the subsequent Captains and Crew throughout Colorado’s life.

It is part of that tradition that the ship’s sponsor is technically considered a permanent member of the ship’s crew and is expected to impart her personality to the ship as well as be an advocate for its continued service and well-being.

Credits:

Photos courtesy of General Dynamics Electric Boat

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