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 and will happen for Colorado in about three weeks.
References to ceremony surrounding ship launchings can be found as far back as the 3rd Millennium BC, The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all called upon their gods to protect seamen. In the US Navy the first recorded Christening was that of USS Ironsides on October 21, 1797.
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.
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.
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.
RADM 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.He will leave office in January and after an eight year tenure will be the longest running Secretary of the Navy since WWI.
Annie’s remarks acknowledged the great honor and looked forward to her continuing relationship with the subsequent Captains and Crew throughout Colorado’s life.
After a blessing by Father Anthony Dinoto, the ceremony concluded with the breaking of the bottle of sparkling wine with the traditional words “In the name of the United States, I Christen thee Colorado. May God bless her and all who sail in her.”
An abbreviated video of the ceremony will be posted for the next week at www.gdebchristenings.com