Surface Warfare Magazine
Sharing stories and news from Sailors across the U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces
 
1/2/2018
Recognizing the Best of the Fleet

The Navy is big on tradition, and a large part of that tradition includes friendly competition between ships in the fleet. In an effort to build comradery through the competition, each ship and crew is rated in proficiency and operational readiness. Those ships rising above the rest by virtue of their achievements are recognized through prestigious award programs.

 In the United States Navy’s Atlantic Fleet, the best all-around ship or submarine is awarded the Battenberg Cup. Each year, this award is presented to only one of the nearly 100 eligible surface ships, aircraft carriers, and submarines.

After visiting the United States in 1905 and making port visits in New York City, Annapolis and Washington, D.C., Prince Louis of Battenberg, Commander of the Royal Navy’s 2nd Cruiser Squadron, returned to England and sent the cup to Rear Admiral Robley Evans, who commanded the U.S. North Atlantic Fleet. Battenberg requested the trophy become a challenge cup between the enlisted men of the two country's navies. Only once in 34 years and through 52 challenges did the Americans lose the cup to the British.

During the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the cup was aboard the most-recent winning ship, USS West Virginia (BB 47) when she was sunk. The cup survived the sinking and was recovered when the ship was raised, refitted and returned to the war.

The Battenberg Cup remained with West Virginia until the ship's decommissioning in 1947. After that, the cup was displayed at several Navy commands, and eventually placed in the Navy Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. until the competition for the cup formally re-emerged in 1978.

The three-foot-high, silver-plated cup features the crossed ensigns of the U.S. Navy and Royal Navy and the engraving, “To the enlisted men of the North Atlantic Fleet from their British cousins of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, In grateful remembrance of the many kindnesses, tokens of good fellowship and wonderful entertainments that were given to them in cordial friendship by their comrades across the sea.”

 

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The most recent recipient of the Battenberg Cup is the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87), receiving the 2016 Battenberg Cup honors on May 23, 2017.

“I could not be more proud of the destroyermen of Mason,” said Cmdr. Stephen Aldridge, Commanding Officer USS Mason. “It was truly a team effort from our INSURV (inspection and survey) in January 2016, all the way through a tremendously successful deployment which concluded in December 2016.”

Mason, the fifth destroyer in the last 111 years to receive the award, also received the Golden Anchor award for personnel program excellence, and won the 2016 Battle Efficiency and Unit Tactics Awards from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26; Mason continued the streak of excellence with 99 percent of the ship's petty officers qualifying as Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist.

In the Pacific Fleet, the most proficient surface combatant ship in overall combat systems readiness and warfare operations is awarded the Spokane Trophy.

Established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt to recognize naval warfighting proficiency, the Spokane Trophy was donated by the Spokane, Wash., Navy League, and is designed to embody the spirit of Spokane and its pride in the Navy.

Unlike the Battenberg Cup for the Atlantic Fleet, this award honors surface ships only.

Crafted by Leo M. Dornberg & Co., a local Spokane jeweler, for $1,500 in 1907, the trophy stands approximately 28-inches high and is 16-inches wide at the handles. It is made with 400-ounces of sterling silver, lined with gold, and mounted on a rosewood base. Today the trophy is valued at more than $4 million dollars.

The trophy was originally awarded annually to ships in the Pacific and Atlantic Fleet until it was retired in 1941 and placed on display at the Naval Museum in Washington D.C. It was later moved to the Naval Historical Center in the Washington Naval Yard in 1977. In 1984, the Spokane Trophy was reactivated and sent to the Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters building in San Diego, where it remains on permanent display.

Awarded the 2016 Spokane Trophy early 2017, the most recent recipient is the guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), marking the ship's second time earning this prestigious award.

“Throughout the year, the crew of Chancellorsville demonstrated superb performance and excellence across the wide spectrum of combat systems warfare areas,” said Adm.Scott Swift, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “USS Chancellorsville’s selection as the best in the Fleet highlights a steadfast commitment to our Navy and the nation.” Surface Warfare Magazine

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