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USS Gravely Visits Mobile for Mardi Gras Celebration

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS140228-27
Release Date: 2/28/2014 8:53:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Adam Austin, Nay Public Affairs Support Element, East

MOBILE, Ala. (NNS) -- 'Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!'

These words broke the calm of Mobile Bay today as the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Gravely (DDG 107) steamed past the wreck sight of the Cononicus-class monitor USS Tecumseh, lost 150 years ago with all hands.

The phrase, originally uttered by Admiral David Farragut during the Battle of Mobile Bay, was repeated to honor those lost during the battle on Aug. 5, 1864, and to herald Gravely as she arrived for a week of community relations events during the annual Mardi Gras celebration in Mobile.

'I've always been told Mobile is a Navy town,' said Cdr. Kevin Kennedy, the commanding officer of Gravely. 'The welcome Gravely received today proves it. The entire crew is excited to participate in the oldest Mardi Gras in the United States.'

Sandy Stimpson, the mayor of Mobile, addressed the crew of Gravely during the ceremony, welcoming them to Mobile.

'It's only because of what you do, with your service to your country, that we are allowed to do what we do every day,' said Stimpson. 'So, on behalf of all the citizens of Mobile, and all those that are here, thank you.'

The welcome ceremony included the Robertsdale High School Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) cadets, BB60 Crewmates, Azalea Trail Maids, and the Mobile Council Navy League. The ceremony also included a performance by the Davidson High School Band, who greeted Gravely with a rendition of the Navy fight song, 'Anchors Aweigh.'

Following the ceremony, Gravely crew members welcomed aboard NJROTC cadets. The cadets ate lunch on the mess decks, and crew members gave them a tour of the ship.

'I thought it was overall a great experience,' said Cadet Lcdr. Rachel Starling. 'I would be excited to come back next year. It was wonderful for our cadets, especially our freshman.'

Citizens of Mobile can expect to see a lot of Gravely crew over the next few days as they volunteer for scheduled community relations events. Ensign Patrick Jablonski and Lt.j.g. Joseph Schmitt were selected to be military escorts for the Mardi Gras Queen during all formal events, and other members of the crew are excited to be involved as well.

'It's a good feeling to be on a naval ship, serving my country,' said Quartermaster Seaman Jeremy Manning, an Alabama native. '[It's great] to be able to have a big influence down in Mardi Gras.'

Events include the Floral Parade and Mardi Gras coronation ceremony on Saturday, and the 24th Annual Joe Cain Classic 5K Run on Sunday. Additional parades and other events are scheduled to continue through Tuesday.

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