BALTIMORE (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy's commissioned the latest guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) at Baltimore's Locust Point Cruise terminals Aug. 9 - the fourth time in naval history that a ship bears this name. The ship can now directly support the Navy's effort to execute the maritime strategy.
During the ceremony, Greg Sterett, a descendant of the ship's namesake Lt. Andrew Sterett, was dressed in a colonial naval uniform, and left the 19th century warship USS Constellation, normally anchored in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, to board the modern warship. He brought with him not just his family name, but the spirit of his Maryland ancestor.
"Lt. Sterett was born in Baltimore in 1778 and [it] is fantastic to be in a town with such great nautical history," said Cmdr. Brian Eckerle, the ship's commanding officer. "He was a brave naval hero at a time when the Navy was a fledgling force. He is an incredible individual and we welcome his spirit on board."
For one Maryland Sailor, this was also his opportunity to shine.
"It's an honor for me," said Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 2nd Class (SW) Torell Beulah of Greensboro, Md. "I never thought I'd get to come to Maryland on board my ship and see my local Maryland citizens."
For more news from Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, visit Beulah said his family is waiting at the ship's future homeport in San Diego.
The ceremony included speeches by Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter, Gov. Martin O'Malley and U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
Eckerle said the ship's motto, "Forever Dauntless," is in honor of the third Sterett vessel, a Vietnam-era cruiser (CG 31).
"Their slogan was dauntless," said Eckerle. "We wanted to become part of CG-31 and carry on the tradition of the Sailors who cruised before us."
Veterans of both the Vietnam-era cruiser and the World War II destroyer were present to witness the commissioning of the next generation Sterett.
As Sailors manned the rails of the destroyer, bursts were shot out of torpedo tubes, speeches were made and then it came time to bring Sterett to life. Another Sterett descendant and ship sponsor, Michelle Sterett Bernson gave the order to bring the ship to life.
Moments after hearing the order, both the commissioning flag and national ensign were raised.
Quartermaster Seaman Apprentice Ashley Cochran, of the ship's navigation department, had the honor of raising a rather unique commissioning flag.
"This commissioning flag was from the Vietnam-era ship's ceremony," said Chief Quartermaster (SW/AW) Frank Mossely, leading chief petty officer, navigation department. "Normally the flag is supposed to go the commanding officer, but the signalman who raised it kept it."
Mossely said this same signalman contacted the ship after hearing about the commissioning.
"He said he would be honored if we flew his flag," said Mossely. "There is a great line of history here and this is just another artifact of that history."
Cochran said she volunteered to raise the commissioning flag because she felt a connection to the Vietnam-era signalman.
"To know that another quartermaster or signalman raised this flag up many years ago is very exciting to me," said Cochran. "Being so new to the Navy, it's an honor to be a plank owner. Many years from now, I can say I was here when the ship was commissioned. I could also say when I was 20, I raised the commissioning flag."
Sterett is technogically advanced warship, with several structural and electronic upgrades. One of the upgrades is a direct response to lessons learned from the attack on the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67).
"We have a stronger hull as well as improved isolation systems," said Eckerle. "This makes it easier to isolate chill water, firemains, or anything else we need to shut off."
Eckerle said the ship's weapons systems are the first ever to be commercial off the shelf technology. This means software and components can be changed out for newer high-end equipment easier.
"We can use circuit boards and software that are industry standards today," said Eckerle. "It keeps us modern and more sophisticated. It also allows us to bring the latest and greatest technology to the Navy."
Sterett was built by Bath Iron Works Dynamics Company and is 509.5 feet long and has a waterline beam of 59 feet. Four gas turbine engines power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.