USS Gridley Joins Fleet In Miami Ceremony

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Miami Herald
February 11, 2007
Top military officials joined other dignitaries in a commissioning ceremony for the USS Gridley, a new Navy destroyer.
By Carol Rosenberg
With the blast of a foghorn and a belch of exhaust, the most agile, lethal naval destroyer the Pentagon has yet produced joined the American fleet in a ceremony on Saturday at the Port of Miami-Dade.
Adm. James Stavridis, head of the Southern Command, declared the $1 billion guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley ``pound for pound, gun for gun, sailor for sailor the absolute apotheosis of combat power at sea.''
He warned the 278-member crew, ``One day you will fire your guns and your missiles in anger. It will happen because we live in a dangerous world.''
But he also assured them they will sail Caribbean waters and ``go with willing hands to work on an orphanage, to help paint a civil project in friendly countries less fortunate than our own.''
The ship is named for a 19th-century naval captain, Charles V. Gridley, whose USS Olympia fired America's opening shots in the Spanish-American war, in the Port of Manila Bay.
Prodigal captain
It was built at Maine's Bath Iron Works and came here for Miami's first ever commissioning ceremony at the request of its first skipper, Cmdr. Steve Shinego, a Hallandale Beach native.
More than 4,000 spectators -- veterans, sailors' families and future sailors -- watched under a noonday sun from a dock at the Port of Miami-Dade while dignitaries delivered speeches from the deck of the haze-gray warship, which was wrapped in red, white and blue bunting.
''Welcome to a beautiful day in South Florida -- so much like Maine,'' cracked Lt. Cmdr. Dave Perry, second in command of the ship, serving as master of ceremonies.
''It's a privilege to serve on this warship. It's a privilege to be in Miami this week,'' said his boss, Shinego, lamenting that his father, a retired soldier and Miami-Dade detective, was too ill to attend.
But the highlight of the 90-minute ceremony was when, by order of Gridley's great-great granddaughter -- ''Man our ship and bring her to life'' -- sailors in dress whites ran up the ship's gangways.
They then lined the deck, to the cheers of the spectators below, as Gridley delivered a cacophony of gunfire and sirens, its radar whirling.
''What a magnificent Bath-built ship. This city has rolled out the red carpet for the USS Gridley,'' gushed Cathy Forst of Colorado, the great-great granddaughter, who christened the ship with the crack of a champagne bottle in Maine a year ago.
Pentagon's greetings
Miami attorney Frank Jimenez, now Navy general counsel, brought the Pentagon's greetings and a personal touch.
As a young lawyer on Biscayne Boulevard, ''I never dreamed I would help launch a proud vessel of the United States Navy at this grand port,'' he said. ``It is a sheer delight to do so.''
''When a fighting ship sails, she sails for us all,'' added Jimenez. ``When she fights, she fights for us all. When she traverses the seas in defense of American interests and values, she promotes peace and stability for us all.''
The ship, the fourth in the U.S. Navy named Gridley, will be based in San Diego.
This version would go to war as part of an aircraft carrier group. It's equipped with two twin-engine Sea Hawk attack helicopters, a 96-cell Tomahawk missile system, torpedoes, state-of-the-art air defenses, a 5-inch, .62-caliber gun and a war room called the Combat Information Center that looks like a Hollywood creation.
World War II and Vietnam veterans of Gridleys past, plus families of current Gridley sailors, came from across the country for the week-long port visit, which got some Gridley sailors coveted Super Bowl seats.
Also on hand were seven Gridleys of Dayton, Ohio -- distant kin of the original sea captain, who learned on the Internet of the celebration and secured passes.
''I loved it,'' said Bill Gridley, 54, a General Motors technician. ``Ever since I was a little boy, my dad told me stuff about the USS Gridley. And I kept praying they'd make another one.''