USS Carl Vinson Conducts Traditional Baptism in Ship's Forecastle

Story Number: NNS080731-09Release Date: 7/31/2008 4:12:00 PM
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By Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Brandon Monette, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Sailors witnessed one of the Navy's oldest traditions when they gathered in the ship's forecastle July 25, to celebrate the baptism of the 3-month-old daughter of the ship's chief engineer.

The Navy's baptism tradition dates back several hundred years to the British Royal Navy, when baptisms were carried out in foreign ports or for infants born at sea. For Chief Engineer (CHENG) Cmdr. John Markowicz, the baptism was not only special because of its traditional maritime origins but also because of the religious significance.

"The baptism will welcome the baby into our faith," said Markowicz. "My wife and I are Catholics, so we are committed to raising our children in our faith."

Another aspect of the tradition calls for the child to be baptized in the ship's bell after which, the name of the child is engraved inside the bell. The bell is usually presented to the family of the ship's first baptism upon the ship's decommissioning.

"Once I learned that my wife was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to try to baptize our child aboard Carl Vinson," said Markowicz.

Presiding over the ceremony was Lt. Fulgencio Legaspi, a Catholic priest. According to Legaspi, the sacrament of baptism is the first stride in a lasting journey of commitment and discipleship in one's chosen faith.

"Baptism is a very sacred and important ceremony for Christians. The CHENG and his family are making a wonderful commitment. It was a privilege to be a part of the ceremony, and I am honored to have been the chaplain presiding over it."

Donned in their dress whites, Carl Vinson Sailors of diverse religious backgrounds witnessed the event to show their support.

For Markowicz, the opportunity to have his child baptized aboard a newly refurbished aircraft carrier, one in which he has spent so much time working, was an experience he won't soon forget.

"It's an exciting moment for my family and me. With my work here in the shipyard and this great event today, my family will be forever tied to this great aircraft carrier."

Carl Vinson is undergoing her scheduled refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. The RCOH is an extensive yard period that all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through near the mid-point of their 50-year life cycle.

During RCOH Carl Vinson's nuclear fuel will be replenished and the ship's services and infrastructure will be upgraded to make her the most state-of-the-art aircraft carrier in the fleet and prepare for another 25 years or more of service.

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