Christening of DDG 124

[Post by Chuck Krugh, August 4, 2023]

What an event!! We had a wonderful ceremony in the yard this past weekend – the christening of DDG 124, Harvey C. Barnum Jr. We worried all week about the weather, mainly about rain. Mother Nature smiled on us and held off the rain, but she turned up the heat. It was a beautiful sunny Maine day.

So the day was great, the ship looked very good and the dry dock was ready to see somewhere north of 1,800 people to witness the christening. We welcomed the Secretary of the Navy, Sen. Collins, Sen. King and Gov. Mills to the event. They all witnessed our Bath Iron Works pride in presenting an awesome ship that represents hours upon hours of work from our shipbuilders – you!

The ship’s namesake, Col. Barnum, experienced the full range of emotions as he witnessed this amazing ship with his name on it coming together. Further, it gave him great pride to watch his wife, Martha – the ship’s sponsor – break the bottle to christen the ship. Many of his family members were there alongside him and Martha. It was a family celebration for them!

BUT, the christening events on Friday and Saturday would not have come off as well as they did without all of our team members who helped us make it a great day for “Barney” and his family. Julie Rabinowitz and her team worked tirelessly in the weeks leading up to the event. They plan every detail from gifts, who is speaking, timing of the event, guests, coordinating with the Navy, the logistics of who needs to be where when, and so much more. Julie’s team is probably one of the smallest teams in our company, but they exemplify the BIW CAN-DO attitude.

On Friday, the Pre-Commissioning Unit of DDG 124 held the tradition of the Mast Stepping, where coins are put into a box that is later welded into the mast for good luck. Peter Wallace, Maintenance Mechanic and one of our longest-serving employees, had the honor of putting the Christening coin in the box on behalf of all of us at BIW. That was a really special moment.  We did not weld the box into the mast yet; Col. Barnum is going to return to the shipyard at least one more time to make that happen after his ship is in the water.

I also want to thank Programs for supporting the Mast Stepping, as well as Sarah Richardson, Hull Manager for DDG 122, and the Hull 522 team for showing the Barnum family what DDG 124 will look like in about a year.

I can’t say enough about our Facility team that makes our shipyard look sharp. They dress out our cranes with American flags, which looked great for all the out-of-town visitors, first-time visitors and our families who attended on Saturday. They also lay out where everything is going to go and make sure we have power, fencing, signs, etc. The Carpenters added to the makeover with red, white and blue bunting. Thank you.

I especially need to give a shout out to our drydock crew. They brought a can-do attitude to holding the Christening in the drydock, which hasn’t been done for any Navy ship in any shipyard in recent memory. When the date for the Christening was selected, our team knew the ship would still be in the drydock. The crew said we could fit all 2,000 chairs, the band, the stage, the giant video screen, the media and everything we would need to run the Christening on the drydock, and they were right!

Our 106 volunteers were totally awesome in helping us manage almost 2,000 people on a sunny Saturday morning. It’s amazing for me to see how effectively they were moving, directing, driving, helping, handing out coins and programs, selling BIW swag, serving water, running out and buying even more water (I mentioned it was hot!), and all the little details they did to help make it a successful day. Thank you.

Matt Ames, Hull Manager for Hull 523, the future USS Harvey C. Barnum, Jr., played a special role as the Sponsor’s Attendant, assisting Martha in the bottle break. Thank you, Matt, for representing all of our shipbuilders and supporting our Sponsor in her big moment!

Lastly, a big Thank You to all of those team members that helped behind the scenes to make the day go well – folks like the material handling team getting the yard spruced up, moving parts and pieces around, or making sure we had enough water during the celebration; Supply Chain getting the tents, audiovisual support, flowers and 1,800 chairs; our Local 7 team that did the setup of all those chairs coming in at 4 a.m. on Saturday; our Safety staff, EMTs and Security officers helping keep people safe; the ladies in the Print Shop who made about 2,000 invitations, program booklets and many more items; the Sign Shop for making the banners decorating our drydock and signs with directions for our visitors; our movers who set up rooms, then reset them, distributed items then collected them afterward.

So many people did so much for our day to be special for Barney and Martha. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

Bath Iron Works stood tall last weekend!

See you on the deckplates!

Safely Execute High-Quality Work

President, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works

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