At the gracious invitation of the Chairman of the North Dakota Commissioning Committee, three members of our Committee, John (JJ) Mackin, Dick Cooper and John O’Donnell were able to attend the commissioning of USS NORTH DAKOTA on October 25th and the associated festivities. On Friday evening we attended the Chairman’s Reception. There were about 400 persons in attendance. They had an excellent sit down dinner. A major purpose of this event is to acknowledge supporters who contributed including both contractors and private citizens. It is customary to exchange gifts between the various parties. The ship’s sponsor presented a picture to the ship as gift which will hang onboard during the ship’s career. Their Committee Chairman was highly successful in creating a North Dakota atmosphere with a mens chorus singing patriotic songs and with an actor playing as a Teddy Roosevelt impressionist, emphasizing the state’s ties to the former President.
After the Southeast Connecticut area endured a Nor’easter earlier in the week, the sun came out on Saturday to make it a beautiful, sunny 65 degree day for the Commissioning Ceremony. It is estimated that there were some 2400 persons in attendance, about 400 of those from North Dakota. The ceremony took about an hour and a half. The principal speaker was the Chief of Naval Operations, ADM Jonathan Greenert. In addition there were shorter remarks from the shipbuilders and politicians from Connecticut and North Dakota. At the end of the ceremony the Commissioning Pennant is raised and the crew charges onboard to “man the watch”. It is quite an impressive ceremony. There were receptions before and after the ceremony back at the main hotel.
This was a highly valuable experience for our Committee members in attendance. We observed a myriad of details that will need to be planned for COLORADO’s Commissioning. We talked to a number of people who are instrumental in making these ceremonies happen and they will be great resources for us as we plan our event.