The crew of guided missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) took time to honor their sponsor during an at sea memorial service Feb. 11.
Helen Lou Ross, who passed away Jan. 15, had sponsored the ship since she christened it with a bottle of champagne during a ceremony in April 1996.
Mrs. Ross was the wife of the ship’s namesake, Capt. Donald Kirby Ross, who had received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in USS Nevada (BB 36) during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941.
The ceremony was scheduled to coincide with a simultaneous Celebration of Life ceremony being held several thousand miles away in Bremerton, Wash. by the family and friends of Mrs. Ross.
“It was an honor to give tribute to such a remarkable lady and great inspiration to USS Ross,” said Cmdr. Dan Shaffer, commanding officer of USS Ross. “Being able to do it at sea in conjunction with the family’s celebration of her life made it even more special.”
Following the ceremony, a bouquet of flowers was set adrift by Command Master Chief Sharon Laguna, The ship's command master chief.
Following her sponsor duties in conjunction with the christening and commissioning of USS Ross, Mrs. Ross had continued to stay in contact with the ship and had sent a letter just weeks before her death, urging Team Ross to continue the ship’s legacy of achievement and congratulating them on their service to the nation.
During the eulogy, Shaffer read from that letter, and from a letter he had sent on behalf of the crew to be read at Mrs. Ross’s ceremony in Bremerton.
Shaffer’s eulogy to the woman affectionately known to the crew as Lady Helen, ended with the words, “May God bless Lady Helen and the country she served.”
USS Ross is currently homeported in Norfolk, Va., and is heading to the North Atlantic to take part in a multi-national coalition course called Neptune Warrior. The course, run by Joint Maritime Operational Training Staff Northwood in the United Kingdom, is the last complex training event for USS Ross before she deploys in the spring of 2006. USS Ross has embarked the Commander and staff of Destroyer Squadron 24 who will certify Ross for deployment following the Neptune Warrior course.
By Lt. Bill Urban, Fleet Public Affairs Center Atlantic