PEARL HARBOR (April 2, 2010) The guided-missile frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37) makes its way to a new pier location at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Crommelin is scheduled to participate in the Merrie Monarch Festival at Hilo, Hawaii. The weeklong festival is a celebration honoring the legacy of King David Kalakaua, who inspired the perpetuation of Hawaiian traditions, language and arts. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mark Logico/Released)
USS Crommelin Attends Merrie Monarch Festival
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Eric J. Cutright
Release Date: 4/13/2010
HILO, Hawaii (NNS) -- Sailors from the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37) took part in the annual Merrie Monarch Festival on the "Big Island" of Hawaii April 8-10.
The Merrie Monarch Festival is a weeklong event that celebrates the perpetuation, preservation and promotion of Hawaiian culture through education and the art of the hula.
Crommelin arrived at Hilo Pier on April 8, for a three-day port visit, where the crew had an opportunity to enjoy nightly hula competitions and to take part in the culturally-driven Hawaiian event.
"This is now the 47th year that the Navy has been represented here in Hilo for the Merrie Monarch Festival, and it's a tremendous honor for the Sailors of USS Crommelin to have been invited to participate in the ceremony," said Cmdr. Joseph M. Keenan Jr., the commanding officer of USS Crommelin.
Crommelin Sailors were able to enjoy liberty call soon after arriving at Hilo and some took the opportunity to participate in a community relations project at a Girl Scout Service Center.
"I'm just trying to help the community in any way I can while we're here for the Merrie Monarch," said Logistics Specialist 2nd class (SW/AW) Derrick Denmark.
The volunteers painted the entire outside of the service center, which provides the island's girl scouts with their supplies as well as a place for the scout troops to hold meetings.
At night, the Crommelin Sailors were invited to attend the Merrie Monarch hula competitions at the Edith Kanaka'ole Tennis Stadium.
"The fact that these Sailors were able to witness hula firsthand; I think that's really what's touched them the most. They really got to see what the aloha spirit is all about," said Command Senior Chief (SW) Matthew Danforth.
Rear Adm. Dixon Smith, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, joined Crommelin on its second day in Hilo, where he participated in the official pierside welcome ceremony. Smith, along with Keenan, presented plaques signifying the Navy's appreciation to the associate director of Merrie Monarch Festival, Hilo Council of the Navy League and the King and Queen of the Merrie Monarch Festival.
After the ceremony, Crommelin hosted a luncheon on the flight deck for its honored guests.
"It's a wonderful experience for me," said Lisa Akana-Baltero, the Mo'i Wahine, or Queen of the Merrie Monarch Festival Royal Court. "I enjoyed seeing the ship and having conversations with the crew on board. It was just a wonderful event."
On radio station KMXX FM 94.7 Hilo, radio personality Kaohu James had an opportunity to chat with Smith and Navy League Hilo Council President David DeLuz, Jr. about the Navy's participation in the popular festival and shared the importance of the Navy's presence in Hawaii.
On the third and final day of the Crommelin's involvement, Keenan, along with his executive officer and command senior chief, led his crew as they marched in the Merrie Monarch Royal Parade through downtown Hilo. Smith, joined by his wife, Kiki, walked beside the Crommelin Sailors while waving and shaking hands with people along the way.
"We are thrilled to be here," said Keenan. "The Navy and Hilo have roots that go back many, many years, and we are proud to represent the Navy at the 2010 Merrie Monarch Festival."
Before leaving Hilo, Crommelin welcomed 14 cadets from Waiakea High School Navy JROTC in Hilo to embark the ship on its return trip to Pearl Harbor.
Chief Boatswain's Mate Scott Fraser, Waiakea High School NJROTC Naval science instructor, thanked the commanding officer and crew of Crommelin for all they have done for the young cadets.
"They made us feel like real shipmates while on board. All the accommodations and tours that they gave us were fantastic," he said. The cadets thoroughly enjoyed the steel-beach picnic and flight deck movie. "I couldn't have asked for a better event," he added.
While in Pearl Harbor, the cadets toured Pacific Aviation Museum, USS Arizona Memorial and World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.