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Kearsarge Continues Navy Tradition with Ship's Bell Baptismal Ceremony

25 January 2021

From Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jake Vermeulen, USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Public Affairs

The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) continued one of the Navy’s oldest traditions when it hosted a christening and bell baptism ceremony for three Kearsarge families on the ship’s flight deck Jan. 24.

The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) continued one of the Navy’s oldest traditions when it hosted a christening and bell baptism ceremony for three Kearsarge families on the ship’s flight deck Jan. 24.

Cmdr. Cory Peterson, Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Thai, and Lt. Nicholas Ballard celebrated the christening of their children during an intimate ceremony with their families.

“This ceremony is important to my family because the Navy is such a huge part of our lives,” said Peterson who has served in the Navy for 20 years. “Anytime we get an opportunity to connect and give our children a lasting impression of what we do and why we’re called to wear the cloth of our nation is just another chance to bring our family closer together.”

The tradition of christening babies aboard naval ships dates back to the time of the Royal British Navy, when they were performed in foreign ports or at sea. Traditionally the infant is baptized under or inside the ship’s bell.

Presiding over the christening were Cmdr. Thomas Cook and Lt. John G. Sutphin, Navy chaplains.

“A baptism in a ship’s bell is symbolic of not just being welcomed into their own families, but into a wider community of faith,” said Sutphin. “It is an intentional act to say that this ship is part of the lives of these parents and these children and is a way of demonstrating the idea of one team, one fight and one Navy family.”

The ship’s bell will be engraved with the name of every child baptized in or under it.

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