With a smash of the bottle and a spray of its sparkling wine, sponsor Sally Jewell proclaimed this morning, “I christen thee United States Ship Montana! God Bless this submarine and all who sail in her!”
This climax of a moving and meaningful virtual christening ceremony marked the future USS MONTANA’s readiness for launch, and the beginning of a final phase of completion and testing before she is commissioned into the fleet late next year.
During the christening event there were many solemn reminders of the MONTANA’s future role in defending our nation, and the need for the crew to always be ready to fight in that defense. But there were also reminders that MONTANA’s strength and her crew’s capabilities will provide strong military deterrence.
There were also powerful reminders of the connection the MONTANA and her crews for decades into the future will have to our state and our people.
The ceremony was fittingly opened on behalf of all of Montana’s twelve Native Tribes with a special Honor Song performed by members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. CSKT Tribal Council Member Martin Charlo introduced the performance with a reminder of the history of Native Americans in military service and honoring veterans that continues today, and their warrior spirit that will be with MONTANA. His prayer was for blessings for “…all the men and women who help build, equip, crew, train and eventually set sail in defense of our nation.”
MONTANA’s Maid of Honor, Mariah Gladstone, later invited all to share in a Blackfeet blessing as well.
Sponsor Sally Jewell rang for the first time the new ship’s bell that will be officially presented to the MONTANA when she is commissioned. The ringing symbolized the connections the new submarine has with the first USS MONTANA, Armored Cruiser Number 13 commissioned in 1908, as well as with the Navy and our Treasure State and its motto, Oro y Plata, Gold and Silver. Melted into this smaller replica of the first MONTANA’s bell are gold and silver dolphin pins worn by qualified officer and enlisted submariners, and real Montana gold and silver.
We encourage all who may not have been present online today to watch the ceremony at the link here. We know that you will find it, and the remarks by each speaker, inspiring in today’s world of many uncertainties. Included of course are those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. On this, specifically, we are proud of how our military, our MONTANA crew, and the builders of our namesake warship are keeping a focus on their missions while also working to keep one another safe.
Finally, we are grateful for today’s speaker comments recognizing the work of the USS Montana Committee. We thank our members and our many partners for their support of the commissioning and crew of SSN 794.