By PETER ATKINSON, Deputy Editor
One of the most popular means for Navy League
councils to show their support for sea service men and
women, drum up interest in the organization and spur membership
is through “adopting” ships, units and military
According to the most recent Navy League
statistics, as of late 2005 councils had adopted a total
of 218 U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine ships and
190 Navy, Marine Corps, Merchant Marine and Coast Guard facilities
or units — which run the gamut from bases and stations
to reserve centers, schools, recruiting districts, medical
centers and others.
- And the numbers continue to grow. In some
Lake Washington, Wash., Council adopted the new attack
submarine USS Jimmy Carter and its Undersea Research
and Development detachment in November 2005.
Gig Harbor, Wash., Council officially adopted the Coast
Guard Station Seattle during a crew muster at the station
Broward County, Fla., Council adopted Coast Guard Air
Station Miami and the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan
in consecutive weeks in February.
Palm Springs, Calif., Council adopted the carrier USS
Nimitz Feb. 25 in San Diego.
Still others are in the works. The St. Thomas/St.
John, V.I., Council, has asked to adopt the guided-missile
destroyer USS Roosevelt. Caribbean/Latin America Region President
Thomas W. Hoffman, a member of the St. Thomas/St. John Council
board of directors and a Navy League National director, is
pursuing the adoption on behalf of the council.
He said he hopes to formalize an agreement
with Cmdr. Richard L. Clemmons Jr., the ship’s commander,
at, or around the time of, the Navy League Convention, which
is in St. Thomas in July.
“He has been very positive about it
and the council is really excited because we don’t
get much Navy or Coast Guard presence here,” Hoffman
said. “This is the first-ever adoption for us. I know
the community will be excited too if we can get the ship
down here for R&R visits.”
Roosevelt is homeported in Mayport, Fla.,
about a three-day cruise from St. Thomas, and already has
been adopted by the Mayport Council — several other
ships, notably the carrier USS Ronald Reagan, have been adopted
by more than one council. Reagan has been adopted by the
Santa Barbara, Calif., and Aurora, Ill., councils
The Piedmont Triad, N.C., Council is about
at the same point in its effort to adopt the guided-missile
destroyer USS Arleigh Burke, which also has been adopted
by the Fort Lauderdale Council. Milton Price, the council’s
past president, has been communicating with ship officials
about the adoption, and they plan to discuss the matter further
during the ship’s homeport stop in Norfolk, Va., which
was to begin in early May.
Because the council is located well inland
from the Atlantic coast, it has focused primarily on maintaining
a strong legislative presence and working extensively with
local Navy and Marine Reserve Officer Training Corps units,
However, he said, “If we can get a
ship to adopt, it’s four-and-a-half hours to Norfolk.
When we go to recognize the sailor of the quarter or sailor
of the year, we can take a few people along.
“If they can get an up-close-and-personal
look at who and what we’re supporting, it can get them
really interested in the Navy and the Navy League. And they
can help spread the word, and help get other people involved.”
Some councils are especially active when
it comes to adopting ships and units. The National Capital
Council in Washington, D.C., has adopted 10 ships and 12
sea service units. The Oakland Council has adopted four ships
and seven units. Metropolitan Detroit has adopted two ships
and nine units and Orange County, Calif., has adopted two
ships and eight units.
But for councils like Piedmont Triad or
St. Thomas/St. John that are relatively new to the process,
Navy League headquarters offers “The Council Guide
for Ship Adoption” that covers the entire spectrum
of ship and unit adoptions.
The guide offers a variety of reasons why
councils should adopt a ship or unit of the sea services,
- Supporting the men and
women in uniform who serve on the adopted ship or in the
- Providing awards and financial
support for the crew and their families;
- Providing opportunities
for tours and ship rides to current council members and
individual and business candidates for membership;
- Gaining public support
and media attention for the council and the adopted ship
The guide also spells out what is involved
in the adoption process and what steps need to be taken to
make it happen. Briefly, they are:
- Select a ship, cutter
or unit to approach for adoption. Any ship or unit can
be selected, regardless of location, but close geographical
proximity is preferable.
- Communicate with the commanding
officer and ask if the ship, cutter or unit would like
to be adopted by your council.
- Discuss mutual support
with the commanding officer — what will your council
do for the adopted ship and what does your council request
from the command?
- Prepare an adoption agreement
and schedule the adoption ceremony. Invite community and
business leaders to participate, as well as your Navy League
an adoption certificate from the Navy League Membership
From there it’s a matter of hosting
the ceremony for the ship or unit to make the relationship
official, and then following through with whatever support
arrangement has been made with the “adoptee.”
The Gig Harbor Council did not waste any
time after it adopted Coast Guard Station Seattle in January.
Following the adoption ceremony the council’s
Coast Guard Coordinator Kenneth Weller presented its “Sailor
of the Year” honor to BM3 Troy Dostart, along with
a plaque and $100 savings bond.
A month later, 16 Coast Guard personnel
arrived with three boats at Gig Harbor for the presentation
of the “Sailor of the Quarter” award. The council
treated the crew to lunch, and a plaque and $100 savings
bond were presented to BM2 Kurtis Mees, according to Weller.
A second “Sailor of the Quarter” was presented
to BM2 Brett Kime at Station Seattle in April.
While proximity or a strong local connection
are typical reasons for a council’s choice in adopting
a ship or unit, any number of reasons can apply. Price’s
interest in having the Piedmont Triad Council adopt the Arleigh
Burke stems partly from an old college roommate whose son
served aboard the ship.
For councils determined to adopt a ship,
the Navy maintains a list of vessels that have expressed
an interest in adoption [see the list on page 80]. A number
of new Navy and Coast Guard ships also will be commissioned
into their respective fleets during the next year [see box
However, if adopting a ship is not an option,
just about any sea service unit or agency is fair game: The
Stockton, Calif., Council adopted the Office of Naval Research;
the Metropolitan Detroit Council adopted the Mariners Church
in Detroit, the Marine Corps Embassy Detachment in Mexico
City was adopted by the Mexico City Women’s Council,
and the National Capital Council adopted the Marine Corps
Band and Honor Guard. The first step is to ask.
“The Council Guide for Ship Adoption” is
available online at www.navyleague.org/councils/ShipAdoptionGuide.pdf.