SAN DIEGO – USS Boxer (LHD 4) celebrated one of the Navy’s oldest traditions with a ceremony in the ship’s upper vehicle deck, Feb. 18.
Sailors and guests joined Boatswains Mate 2nd Class Steven Valdez and his family for the baptism of Valdez’s first child using the ship’s bell.
Shipboard baptisms began hundreds of years ago with the British Royal Navy in foreign ports and at sea. Before the ceremony, the ship’s bell is removed from the headstock and placed in a stand upside down. During the ceremony, the minister baptizes the baby inside the bell and after the ceremony, the child’s name is engraved inside the bell.
The ceremony was performed by retired Navy Chaplain Cmdr. Keith J. Shuley and was Boxer’s first baptism onboard in more than two years.
“Being baptized on the ship is important for a number of reasons,” said Shuley. “It’s a Navy tradition to be able to remember the commemoration of a child to God as people understand him. It goes back before the U.S. Navy. They have been performed throughout history within the British Navy and have been a tradition in medieval navies, as well. It’s a great and important moment for the crew, for the ship, for the family and for the child.”
Valdez noted how helpful the ship’s two religious personnel specialists were in arranging this ceremony.
“The RPs [religious personnel specialists] have been amazing,” said Valdez. “Through this whole process they have had all the answers and made it so easy and stress-free for my family and me.”
The ship’s bell will remain onboard as long as the ship remains in service. After Boxer’s decommissioning, the bell will be preserved by the Naval History and Heritage Command.
“It’s extremely special to me,” said Valdez. “To be able to restart the tradition of people getting baptized onboard again. It means everything to my family, and we are absolutely over the moon to have the ceremony performed here.”
Boxer is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship commissioned February 11, 1995 and is the sixth ship to bear the name. Boxer’s crew is made up of approximately 1,200 officers and enlisted personnel and can accommodate up to 1,800 Marines.
|NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO, US