No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Stand Navy Out to Sea

August 6, 2019

Stand Navy Out to Sea


One of the cooler things about living on an island that also is home to a large Navy Base is that every once in a while we get to attend cool US Navy events like the one that we attended this past weekend, the commissioning of a brand new Freedom class littoral combat ship, The “USS Billings”. The commissioning ceremony was held in front of invited guests, dignitaries, crew members and their families and a few select members of the public, which happily included Kathy and myself.

Commissioning ceremonies are fairly rare as there are not always a lot of new ships added to the Navy, this is only the second such ceremony to be held in Key West during the time I have lived here. The last was the ceremony for the “USS Spruance” which we were also fortunate enough to attend.

Paul and Ashley

Among the many things that the US military is beyond compare is the ability to produce a ceremony full of the pomp and circumstance worthy of such events. They really know how to build up the excitement and one cannot help but feel immense pride and awe at seeing the ship come to life during the ceremony. It is quite dramatic and exciting and rather moving to see all these young men and women who so bravely and honorably are serving this country.

The ceremony featured a number of local and national dignitaries including Senator John Testor and his wife, who were instrumental in getting this ship named after the largest city of their home state of Montana. The mayor of the city of Billings, which is the namesake of the new vessel was on hand as well as many naval officials and locals as well who represented Key West.

Rich and Penny

The USS Billings (LCS 15) is the eighth Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Shop and the first naval vessel to be named after the largest city in Montana. She sails with the motto, “Big Sky over Troubled Waters.”  The Littoral line of small, highly maneuverable, super-fast combat ships carries the latest in military technology and will be deployed for near-shore operations mostly in mine countermeasures.

Carla and Kathy

Just being able to see the ceremony was a real pleasure and everyone we encountered was excited and proud to be a part of the festivities. After the ceremony, which was held at the Mole Pier at Naval Air Station Key West, we walked over to visit the nearby National Marine Sanctuary Eco-Discovery Center where they were hosting a small environmental fair.

While that was a centerpiece of the past week, it certainly was not the only hi-light, as we got out and about this week to attend a brand new production of “Shrek, Jr.” at the Waterfront Playhouse. The play was a production of the wonderful Youth Theatre Program that the Waterfront produces each year and it was truly a fantastic experience. The kids (and a few adults) who performed were universally excellent, which is rare in most children’s theatre.

It is always fun for us to go and watch our friend’s kids perform and this one was a real treat. This was a totally professional and fun production that was produced with literally only a total of sixty hours of rehearsal time. The beloved story of the loveable ogre Shrek and his quest for love with the Princess Fiona was perfect and we had a great evening at the Waterfront.

Last but certainly not least, we had the great privilege of joining many friends in celebrating the 50th birthday of our dear friend the wonderful Nadene. Kathy and I both go back close to 30 years with this amazing woman and it was such a joy to be included in celebrating this wonderful milestone with such a wonderful group of friends.

Jim, Gary, Collen, Kathy, Graffy, Eileen, Beth, Sue, Nadene, Fiona, Trevor and Rob

Nadene and Graf

The party started with a happy hour gathering at the Sidecar bar at the Casa Marina resort, which would have been awesome in and of itself, but that was only the beginning of the evening as Nadene and her husband Trevor had secured a private vacation rental home where they hosted an amazing sushi dinner party followed by a relaxing evening lounging in the pool enjoying libations and some amazing company. Happy 50th Birthday Miss Nadene, we love you and look forward to sharing many more future milestones in the years ahead.

Beth, Eileen and Colleen

Fiona, Jimmy, Kathy and Rob