The Christening Ceremony was a great success. Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) put on a great event. They were able to incorporate several Washington references into the festivities. The Sponsor, Miss Elisabeth Mabus, dipped the Christening vessel in water collected from Puget Sound, provided by the Commissioning Committee, before christening the WASHINGTON. Several native Washington delicacies and refreshments were served at the ceremony reception. Ms. Kim Wyman, Secretary of State, was in attendance representing the State as well as several members from state Navy Leagues and the Commissioning Committee. The WASHINGTON crew looked sharp in formation and served as the color guard for the ceremony. Video and photo footage from the ceremony is available at http://www.washingtonchristening.com/.
Shortly after the Christening, WASHINGTON was launched into the James River, a process that is spread out over four days. NNS released a time-lapse video which compresses the event to under two minutes - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydVNPmuCMRQ. The rollout out from the outfitting building to the floating drydock brought some of the nicest weather to Southeast Virginia that I have seen in March. Although, when flooding down the drydock a few days later, it was cool and rainy, luckily the sun poked through the clouds at the last minute, as we moved over to our new berth at the NNS pier.
The crew is continuing to support ongoing testing of the ship's systems. Hydraulics, pneumatics, plumbing, trim, drain, you name it, we are in some stage of testing it. In parallel with these tests, the crew is continuing their at-sea qualifications in support of sea-trials. For those that have met my crew, they have seen some of the sharpest and most dedicated professionals; our successes over the last two years are truly founded in their hard work and persistence.
We are in the early stages of Commissioning preparations, based on the current schedule, I anticipate the Commissioning ceremony will be in early January. However, the final approval of the date is being staffed to the Secretary of the Navy. I look forward to working with the Washington Commissioning Committee as the Commissioning Ceremony nears.
J. J. SCHNEIDER