NAVY LEAGUE NEWS
October was a particularly busy month for Navy ship commissionings, with four, including the
first-in-class guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt,
joining the fleet. For Navy League members who were
involved with, or presided over, the committees planning the ceremonies and events that went along with
them, the commissionings capped what in some cases
was several years’ worth of work.
The commissionings kicked off with the ceremony for
the amphibious transport dock ship USS John P. Murtha
Oct. 8 at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. Zumwalt was
commissioned in Baltimore on Oct. 15. On Oct. 22, the
Freedom-class littoral combat ship (LCS) USS Detroit
was commissioned in the Port of Detroit. The month
concluded with the commissioning of the Virginia-class
attack submarine USS Illinois Oct. 29 in Groton, Conn.
Commissioning-related events and highlights ran
the gamut from concurrent Fleet Week activities
and a performance by The Blue Angels Navy Flight
Demonstration Squadron in Baltimore to an address by
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in
Philadelphia, and Ship’s Sponsor First Lady Michelle
Obama giving the order to “man our ship and bring her
to life” for Sailors of USS Illinois.
The process of putting together such a momentous
occasion can be equally monumental, not only because
of all that is involved with the logistics, site preparation
and event planning surrounding the ceremony, but the
unpredictability of the ship’s construction timeline —
and the Navy’s schedule for accepting it and setting the
official date — and, of course, the weather.
Given all that, patience, flexibility and diplomacy
are key virtues when it comes to commission ceremony
planning, according to John R. Peracchio, chairman of
the USS Detroit (LCS 7) Commissioning Committee and
a member of the Navy League’s Metropolitan Detroit
Council. The Detroit Committee worked for more than
three years on the ship’s commissioning, yet did not
have a concrete date for the ceremony until late July as
its delivery kept getting pushed back while design and
performance issues were addressed throughout the LCS
program. Detroit was accepted by the Navy in August.
“We have been at this a good long time,” Peracchio
said. “The committee worked so hard because this was
such an important event for the city, and once we got
the date we moved at warp speed.
“In the end, everything worked out. The ship being
brought to life on the Detroit River with the General
Motors building in the background was a wonderful
sight to see. To have this here, for a city that is being
reborn, was really special. We had a great week here in
Detroit,” he said.
A crowd of nearly 6,500 attended the commissioning ceremony, and many more took part in public tours
of Detroit while it was in port. In fact, more people
lined up for tours than the ship could accommodate,
Peracchio said, so Detroit’s captain, Cmdr. Michael P.
Desmond, spent time walking the line to greet visitors,
pose for pictures and thank them for their good will.
The Detroit commissioning also was unique in that
it was international in scope, given the proximity of
Windsor, Ontario, Canada, across the river and the
shared U.S. and Canadian responsibilities for traffic and
maritime security on the Detroit River and nearby Lake
St. Clair. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens was a member
of the honorary commissioning committee and Port of
Windsor Harbour Master Peter Berry was a member of
the official committee. The Royal Canadian Mounted
Navy Leaguers Highlight Challenges,
Rewards of Ship Commissionings
By PETER ATKINSON, Deputy Editor
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 52 SEAPOWER / DECEMBER 2016
First Lady and Ship’s Sponsor Michelle Obama gives the
order to “man our ship and bring her to life” for Sailors
of the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Illinois during
its Oct. 29 commissioning ceremony at Naval Submarine
Base New London, Conn.