"Launch the Attack"
October 4, 2011
Nadene & Kathy
“Launch the Attack”
Admiral Raymond Spruance gave the famous command “Launch the Attack” during the pivotal sea battle of World War II at Midway Island that changed the fate of the US Fleet and the fortunes of the Pacific fleet. The critical victory led by Admiral Spruance make him a worthy namesake for the newest US Navy vessel that was commissioned here in Key West this week. The phrase which Spruance coined has become the motto of the new ship.
The ship is a 510 ft. Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer that was built by the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine and is destined to San Diego which will serve as her home port when not on active duty. The ship has been in Key West all week and the actual commissioning ceremony was held this past Saturday evening at the Navy Mole.
Tickets to the commissioning ceremony were a coveted commodity in Key West, with the vast majority given out to crew family members, sponsors, local dignitaries and veterans. There were a few offered to the general public which were snatched up in a hurry. Kathy & I thought we had missed out, but thanks to the generosity of our friends Nadene & Trevor we were able to use two extras that they had received. Sadly Trevor ended up having to work and missed the ceremony himself.
Despite a long and storied history as a Navy town, this was the first ever commissioning ceremony to be held in Key West and it was a pretty big deal. The crowd of over 3000 spectators went through the massive security checks, which flowed easily in spite of the crowd size. A bright sunny and warm afternoon greeted the masses as they gathered on the Navy mole in front of the ship to watch the festivities.
Carla & George Robert
Unlike my father ( who I know would have loved this event), I have never been a big military buff. I have tremendous respect for those who serve, but feel we have been misguided in how we utilize our military resources of late. I must admit watching the pomp and circumstance, the pageantry and ritual of the ceremony to launch the USS Spruance was pretty awe inspiring. The honor, respect, patriotism, sacrifice, commitment and dignity of these sailors could not be questioned by even the harshest military critic.
Bert & Clare
There is a video of the highlights of the event shot by my talented friends at Digital Island Media which I have embedded below that gives you a brief taste of what happened. It was a great event and one that I was happy to have been able to attend.
One of the benefits of being a local in Key West is that many of the businesses offer discounts to those who live here, enabling us to enjoy the many tourist attractions and still afford to actually live here. One of the best deals is from the Historic Tours of America company which offers free admission to locals on the first Sunday of each month to their many Key West attractions.
Kathy & I decided to play tourist and spend the day taking advantage of the free admissions. We started at the oldest tourist attraction in Key West, the Key West aquarium. The small aquarium is still a cool little spot to get a quick view of a few of the wide variety of fish, coral and other sea creatures. There is even a display there that I made way back in 1996 during my days working for Reef Relief, it is slightly faded but has held up fairly well over the years.
Our next stop was at the Key West Shipwreck Museum across the street from the aquarium that houses artifacts and displays highlighting the days when Key West was the richest city per capita in the United States thanks to the wrecking industry. They have some great displays about the wrecking industry and an awesome tower that offers spectacular views of Key West and the nearby harbor.
Our final touristy activity was a ride aboard the world famous Conch Tour Train. This is perhaps the ultimate tourist activity in Key West, one that as a local I have cursed many times for driving slow and blocking traffic, yet there we were riding around hoping that our friends may not see us. The train actually provides a great overview of the island and is especially good for first time visitors. We only got slightly bored but will make sure to send our visitors in the future.