The Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite announced Ms. Mary “Molly” Slavonic as the sponsor for the next Virginia-class Nuclear Fast Attack Submarine USS Oklahoma (SSN 802) June 16, 2020.
“I am extremely pleased you will be the sponsor, as you epitomize the spirit of the great state of Oklahoma,” said Braithwaite.
Slavonic has a long history of civic support to both her native state of Oklahoma and to the Navy. She worked alongside her husband, acting Under Secretary of the Navy Greg Slavonic, in building the USS Oklahoma (BB-37) Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to honor the 429 Sailors who perished aboard the ship December 7, 1941.
“Your special relationship with USS Oklahoma, her Sailors, and so many of the Greatest Generation will ensure their memory lives on,” said Braithwaite. “Their selfless sacrifice will forever inspire the future SSN 802, her crew, and our nation.”
A central figure in a ship’s life is the sponsor. Chosen by the Secretary of the Navy, a ship’s sponsor is typically selected for her relationship to the namesake or to the ship’s current mission. It is said, the sponsor’s spirit and presence will guide the ship throughout its service life. The sponsor will participate in many of the ship’s milestones including bestowing the ship’s name during the christening ceremony.
Slavonic’s family has a tenured history in Oklahoma; her maternal great grandfather participated in the land run to open Territory and her maternal grandmother made the 1910 Oklahoma to California road trip on what would be Route 66. She enjoys sharing these stories and discussing Oklahoma’s history and heritage with her children and grandchildren.
Slavonic attended grade school and high school in Oklahoma City, graduating from Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School. She also attended the University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University and was a small business owner for many years.
“It’s an honor and privilege to be selected as a ship’s sponsor and I am overjoyed at the opportunity to be connected to the future USS Oklahoma,” said Slavonic. “I look forward to building relationships with the crews of this ship and bearing witness to the great work they do in support of the Fleet while sharing my affinity for the great state of Oklahoma.”