In accord with naval tradition, the Secretary of the Navy honors a female civilian as “sponsor” for each ship commissioned in the Fleet. Since antiquity, the sponsor, considered a permanent member of the ship's crew, bestows good luck and divine protection over the seagoing vessel and all that sail aboard. Sponsorship represents a lifelong relationship with the ship and her crew. This bond begins with the ship’s christening and the plankowner crew, extending throughout the ship’s service life. The sponsor lends part of her personality to the ship, advocates for its continued service and the crew’s well-being. Her spirit and presence guides the boat throughout its service.
At commissioning, the United States Navy accepts the ship and activates her for service. The ceremony culminates in the Sponsor’s command to “Man Our Ship and Bring Her to Life.”
Special gifts are presented to the Sponsor in honor of her ship’s commissioning. The sponsor of Virginia-class submarine USS Washington (SSN 787) is Elisabeth Mabus, daughter of the former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. Ms. Mabus attends Harvard Law School, preparing for a promising career.
The Commissioning Committee sought a uniquely Pacific Northwest Sponsor’s gift. The Committee commissioned, Lisa Stirrett, a celebrated Northwest artist since 1987 to design and fashion an original glass plate that incorporates the State’s famous Seattle skyline, majestic mountain landmarks, and the ship’s crest. The USS Washington Commanding Officer will present the gift to Ms. Mabus at the traditional Sponsor’s Luncheon aboard their newly commissioned ship.