YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – USS Cowpens (CG 63) Sailors witnessed one of the Navy's oldest traditions when they gathered in the ship's pilot house on March 2, to celebrate the baptism of the daughter of one of their shipmates.
Presiding over the ceremony for Amira Pearl Lenerville was LT Kim, Command Chaplain for USS Cowpens. The Rite of Baptism was performed by LCDR Vaughan, with mother, Kristian Lenerville, and father, QM2 Matthew Lenerville, present. Also in attendance were Amira’s grandparents, who flew in from the United States for the event.
Bells have a centuries-long tradition of varied use in the navies and merchant fleets of the world. Signaling, keeping time, and sounding alarms are important in a ship's routine and readiness. Their functional and ceremonial uses have made them a symbol of considerable significance to the United States Navy.
The bell's connection to religious origins is longstanding. Originating in the British Royal Navy, it is a custom to baptize a child under the ship's bell or to use the bell as a christening bowl, filled with water for the ceremony. Once the baptism is completed, the child's name may be inscribed in the ship’s bell.
“It was a very, very good ceremony. I’d like to thank the Chaplains and my chain of command. It was a very traditional ceremony, and I’m glad we could have it for Amira,” said QM2 Lenerville
Bells remain the permanent property of the US Government and the Department of the Navy, even after the decommissioning of the Navy vessel. In this way, a tangible tie is created between the country, the ship and its citizens.
Cowpens’ Commanding Officer, Captain R.G. Marin commented on the ceremony. “It is an honor to be the Commanding Officer when ceremonies like this happen, as they are somewhat rare and yet they help to remind us of our long standing Navy traditions.”
Cowpens, a forward deployed Ticonderoga Class Cruiser, is part of the George Washington Strike group and is currently undergoing maintenance in Yokosuka, Japan.