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Namesake’s Grandson Visits USS Winston S. Churchill

18 November 2021

From Lt j.g. Ethan Baybutt, USS Winston S. Churchill Public Affairs

NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla. - After attending the Nov. 10 USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) change of command ceremony at Naval Station Mayport, the Honorable Rupert Soames, OBE, toured the ship at BAE shipyard in nearby Jacksonville, Fla.

The ceremony’s guest speaker, Soames is the destroyer’s sponsor and grandson of the ship’s namesake, Winston S. Churchill, who was the British Prime Minister during World War II.

“It’s always a fantastic time for any ship to have its sponsor aboard,” said Cmdr. Brian Anthony, the new DDG 81 commanding officer. “It was a great honor for us to update the Honorable Mr. Soames on Churchill, the challenges and successes of its crew.
“I am delighted to demonstrate how it continues to deliver as the Navy’s most combat ready ship.”
In addition to being the ship’s sponsor, Soames is also the Group Chief Executive Officer of SERCO, a company which has approximately 60 employees working on USS Winston S. Churchill’s depot modernization project. He toured the ship and paid particular attention to the projects in which his company is engaged.
 “My grandfather would be immensely proud of this ship and all who have sailed, are now sailing or will sail in her,” said Soames. “USS Winston S. Churchill represents all that is right between our countries and she is a fine global ambassador of peace and naval power.”

USS Winston S. Churchill is a 9,500-ton, 509-foot long, AEGIS-equipped, Arleigh Burke-Class destroyer. It is the 31st destroyer in this class to be built for the U.S. Navy and is capable of simultaneously fighting air, surface, and subsurface battles.
The ship was built at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, and commissioned at her first homeport of Norfolk, Va., March 10, 2001. Mrs. Janet Langhart Cohen, wife of the then-Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, commissioned the ship alongside Lady Mary Soames, the daughter of Sir Winston Churchill, and the ship’s honorary sponsor from the United Kingdom.
Uniquely, DDG 81 is the only U.S. Navy vessel to have a Foreign Naval Officer permanently assigned to the ship's company. The ship’s navigator is, and has been since the ship’s commissioning, a rotating, British Royal Navy Officer.
It is also the only U.S. Naval vessel to fly a foreign ensign; the Royal Navy's White Ensign is flown as well as the Stars and Stripes. It is the fifth U.S. warship to be named in honor of an Englishman and the 16th warship to be named for a foreign national, but it is the only one in active service today. USS Winston S. Churchill’s mission is to provide a forward naval presence and ensure the world’s oceans remain free and accessible to all.


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