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Page Title: Commissioning
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done  in  the  past  to  provide  guidance  to  what  is traditional and appropriate for given situations. KEEL-LAYING The first milestone in the history of a ship is the keel-laying  ceremony.  This  is  generally  a  simple ceremony. The invitation is issued by shipyard officials, and the ceremony is conducted by them. CHRISTENING OR LAUNCHING The   second   significant   ceremony   is   the christening or launching ceremony. When a recently constructed   ship   is   christened,   it   is   solemnly dedicated,  named,  and  committed  to  the  sea.  There  are many variations in launching programs, even as to whether it is known as a launching or christening, or both. The desires of the shipbuilder and of the Navy as well as existing circumstances will determine its final form. It should be noted that the designation of U.S. Ship (USS) is not properly used with the ship’s name  at  this  point  for  the  ship  has  not  yet  been accepted  into  naval  service. COMMISSIONING The  commissioning  ceremony,  the  third  and  most important ceremony in the history of a ship, is the ceremony that designates the ship a U.S. Ship, entitles the ship to fly the commission pennant, and is the way the Navy formally accepts the ship. There are two major steps in the commissioning process. Initially, the builder turns the ship over to the area commander. The area commander, who is the intermediary  between  builder  and  prospective  CO, receives   the   ship   and   commissions   it.   The   area commander then turns the ship over to the prospective CO  who  accepts  the  ship,  assumes  command,  and proceeds  to  act  as  host  for  the  remainder  of  the ceremony. Commissioning  invitations  commonly  take  one  of two  forms.  The  principal  difference  between  them  lies in  the  consideration  of  who  is  the  host  for  the ceremony and in whose name, therefore, invitations are extended. In practice, the first commissioning is the  responsibility  of  the  area  commander.  For  this reason,  invitations  citing  the  area  commander  as  one of multiple hosts are often used (fig. 4-6). However, invitations tendered in the name of the CO, officers, and crew members of the ship are at least equally traditional (fig. 4-7). The Commander in Chief Atlantic, the Commanding Officer, and Ship’s Company request the honor of your presence at the commissioning of USS NEVERSAIL (DD-2215) at  the  Norfolk  Naval  Shipyard,  Norfolk  Viginia on Monday, the fifteenth of August nineteen hundred and ninety-three at half past one o’clock R.S.V.P. 255-5812 Figure 4-6.-Formal engraved invitation on bristol card stock. The Captain, Officers, and Men of UNITED STTES SHIP NEVERSAIL request the honor of your presence on  the  occasion  of  the  commissioning  of UNITED  STATES  SHIP  NEVERSAIL Boston  Naval  Shipyard,  Boston,  Massachusetts on Saturday, the tenth of May nineteen hundred and ninety-three at  three  o’clock Please present this card at the Henley Street Gate Figure 4-7.-Sample commissioning invitation for a 4- by 5-inch invitation card. Although the ship is not accepted as a U.S. Ship until midway in the ceremony, invitations customarily use the designation USS (without periods) with the ship’s name. Since this title is preempted for early use, it seems stuffy to insist on the use of the designation “prospective” in reference to the captain and crew of the ship, but it is still  seen  occasionally. The  invitation  may  be  engraved  on  full-size, double-white  paper,  similar  in  style  to  a  wedding invitation (fig. 4-6) or, as is more usual, on a white invitation card that is entirely plain or topped by a replica of the commission pennant (fig. 4-7). It is incorrect to use the word the before a ship’s name inasmuch as there is only one ship with that name in commission at any given  time.  The  desired  uniform  or  other  information such as “Cameras not permitted” is indicated at the lower right-hand comer. 4-9

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