Pearl Harbor-Hickham, HI -- Families, friends and crew members from USS O’Kane (DDG 77) celebrated the 16th anniversary of the ship’s commissioning Oct. 23 at Bellows Air Force Station.
The O’Kane’s First Class Petty Officer Association hosted the ceremony and the festivities that followed as a way to commemorate all the ship’s achievements to date, including 10 deployments. The ceremony began with raising the Battle Cat flag on the yardarm.
The Battle Cat flag is flown in honor of Rear Adm. Richard O’Kane’s accomplishments during World War II. The flag can be described as a black panther superimposed on a Japanese naval ensign. The Battle Cat flag was then taken to Bellows Beach to ceremoniously represent O’Kane.
Cmdr. Colby Sherwood, the ship’s executive officer, and Command Master Chief (SW) Charles Thomas cut the cakes provided by O’Kane’s Junior Sailors Association. Families and friends were introduced to information about O’Kane’s command history and indulged in picnic food cooked by the First Class Petty Officer Association.
“I’ve spent 3.5 years on USS O’Kane and through all the changes she has made, one thing has never changed. O’Kane’s crew always comes together and becomes ohana,” said Cryptologic Technician (Technical (SW) Kendra Sims.
Christened in March 1998, accepted by the Navy in May 1999 and commissioned in Pearl Harbor on Oct. 23, 1999, O’Kane took its place in the fleet as the country’s 26th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.
O’Kane departed for its maiden deployment on Aug. 1, 2001 where it transited the Strait of Hormuz and joined coalition forces in the Arabian Gulf for two months, setting new records for boardings. Since then, it has deployed multiple times in direct support of the Global War on Terrorism.
O’Kane has been a part of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Exercise Northern Edge 06. O’Kane was tasked to support Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) presence requirements in U.S. 5th Fleet several times and served as the test ship for the first-ever intercept of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) where the successful intercept provided proof-of-concept for the president’s phased adaptive approach (PAA) for defense of Europe.
Currently, the ship is undergoing its maintenance availability after returning from a deployment to U.S. 5th Fleet in December.
O’Kane is named for Rear Adm. Richard O’Kane, a submarine commander in World War II who received the Medal of Honor for his service aboard USS Tang (SS-306). He directly participated in more successful attacks on shipping than any other submarine officer during the war.
USS O’Kane continues “a tradition of honor,” the ship’s motto, and a simple summation in tribute to Rear Adm. O’Kane’s service.