By MC1(SW) Aramis X. Ramirez
AVONDALE, La. - The crew of the future amphibious landing transport dock ship Anchorage (LPD 23) and shipbuilders from Huntington Ingalls Industries
(HII) Shipbuilding conducted a mast-stepping ceremony Sept. 7 on board the ship currently under construction at the HII shipbuilding site in Avondale.
During the ceremony, coins and other affections were placed into the mast prior to it being secured in place. The coins are meant to bring the ship luck as well as to "pay the crew's way" in the event the ship sinks - an ode to the shipbuilding tradition that dates back to ancient Rome.
Ship's sponsor Annette Conway joined Cmdr. Brian Quin, commanding officer of Pre-commissioning Unit (PCU) Anchorage as well as Sailors hailing from the Municipality of Anchorage in placing the coins and other artifacts representing the heritage of the ship, the sponsor, and namesake city.
"It truly is an honor to sponsor this ship and the crew who will bring her to life," Conway said as she addressed the crew during an all hands call prior to the ceremony. "I know you'll make all of us proud and deliver a ship that will support not just the Navy, but your families and your country."
The coins, totaling 23 cents, included pennies minted in the birth years of Conway's children, nickels minted in years of significance to the previous Anchorage (LSD 36), and a command coin for Conway's husband, Gen. James T.
Conway, USMC(Ret.), 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps .
Other artifacts included the yellow ribbon pin Conway wore when her family was serving in the Marine Corps, family photos, and a moose antler to represent the city of Anchorage.
"The moose antler they included in the box was special because it's a piece of the natural heritage for my home city," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Gloria Hurtado, a native of Anchorage, Ak. who was present at the ceremony, representing her hometown with two other Sailors. "I'm glad that I was able to be here to help celebrate this and look forward to commissioning this ship and honoring the city I call home."
Following the ceremony, Conway toured the ship for the first time. The ship was inaccessible due to near flood stage river levels when she christened the ship in May 2011. Conway met a number of Sailors and Marines in the crew as she toured such spaces as medial, combat, the bridge, and common crew areas. She thanked those she met for their service and congratulated them on their assignment to Anchorage.
Anchorage is the seventh San Antonio class amphibious transport dock under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries shipbuilding site in Avondale, near New Orleans, La. The ship is scheduled to be delivered in September, commissioned in the spring of 2013 in Anchorage, Ak., and homeported in San Diego.