Tuesday, February 16, 2010

USS Dewey

Sometimes extraordinary things happen in Seal Beach. This March 6th, for the first time in Orange County, a naval vessel will be commissioned: USS Dewey DDG 105. Commissioning a ship is a time-honored tradition, which celebrates a vessels' formal entry into service with the active Navy fleet. USS DEWEY was constructed at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi and is sponsored by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff & Admiral Mike Mullen’s wife, Deborah. The vessel, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, is the third ship to bear the name of Admiral of the Navy George Dewey. Earlier versions, the DDG 349 was very active in the Pacific theatre in WWII and the DDG 45 a Farragut class missile destroyer. But what does all of that mean to us as a community here in Seal Beach? Why should we care?

Our USS Dewey has a complement of 380 officers and enlisted personnel and is one of the most sophisticated Naval vessels ever developed. With a comprehensive set of offensive and defensive capabilities, it is capable of sustained battle and support in ship-to ship, ship-to-shore, ship-to-subsurface and ship-to-air engagements. It also represents a first ever opportunity for our business, school and residential community to participate more fully in what our largest real estate partner: the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. For those businesses in Seal Beach, we have an opportunity to build a greater connection with the sailors of this vessel and others which come in and out of the Weapons Station.

Lead by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, which is hosting the VIP reception on Friday, March 5th, the business community is doing it’s part to facilitate the USS Dewey events. Main Street Wine Cellar and Hennesey’s have also stepped to the plate and provided wine and beer for the events as well. Many Chamber member businesses are coming forward to create a “Welcome Kit” booklet of coupons and discounts for the crew. Working with the City of Seal Beach, Trees for Seal Beach and the Commissioning Committee, a large number of trees are going to be planted along Lampson Avenue in commemoration of the special day.

How does a series of events like this get pulled off? Thanks to a large number of volunteers both inside and outside the Navy. Maria-Isabel Soto, Chief of Staff along with Captain Jon Kurtz and the Commissioning Committee have worked for the last 4 months to make it all happen. Members of the Seal Beach staff also have played a huge part in connecting the ship and crew with events. I was deeply honored to be present when City Council presented Commander Warren Bullen with a certificate of appreciation and recognition and he complemented our town and citizenry for such a warm welcome and support. The Chamber of Commerce has commissioned a ship’s gift of a stained glass piece to connect our logo and the ship’s logo, as seen in this article, to commemorate the day and our community’s partnership. We are after all, in part a Navy town, not that unlike our larger cousin San Diego. So let’s all be sure to welcome our sailors and be proud of the partnership we have!

As President Theodore Roosevelt said in Chicago in 1903, “There is a homely old adage which runs: ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.’ If the American nation will speak softly, and yet build and keep at a pitch of the highest training a thoroughly efficient navy, the Monroe Doctrine will go far.” Though the time of the Monroe Doctrine has passed, we are pleased that one of the “big sticks” of the U.S. Navy has been commissioned here in Seal Beach. For more information about the events, go to www.deweycommissioning.org

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