Christening Ceremony for Aircraft Carrier John F. Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy, President John F. Kennedy’s daughter and sponsor of his namesake ship, smashed a bottle of American sparkling wine across the ship’s hull on Saturday, December 7, 2019, to christen the aircraft carrier.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Major General and former NASA Administrator Charles Frank Bolden Jr., served as the principal speaker.

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We shall pay any price, bear any burden. Meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

[Walter] As the campaign gets underway, the presidential candidates meet face to face in television debates seen and heard by millions of people.

The office of President of the United States.

I will faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States.

And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.

We choose to go to the moon!

[Walter] Apollo 11 lifted off to begin the lunar landing mission.

Our goal is not the victory of might but the vindication of right. Not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom. And this nation, for all its hopes, and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free. I take pride in the words (speaking foreign language).

[Walter] The fleet performed flawlessly and President Kennedy saw his first Cape missile launch. A Polaris, from the submerged nuclear submarine the Andrew Jackson.

Today is an important first step, a step towards peace. A step towards reason, a step away from war.

Let this ship we christen in his name be a testament that his countrymen have not forgotten him.

So to me it’s amazing to know that CV 67, USS John F Kennedy, was brought to life right here in this shipyard. And I was honored to serve aboard her for 40 years. And now as a shipbuilder, it’s very exciting to know that we’re about to bring CVN 79, the most technically advanced aircraft carrier in the fleet, to life.

For me personally, being the sponsor of the USS John Kennedy, this is a truly special moment. For the brave men and women who serve on this ship, who carry my father’s name and values forward into the future.

Today we begin the voyage anew. There is a new world to be won. A world of peace and goodwill. A world of hope and abundance. And we want America to lead the way in that new world.

And today, as we lay the keel for the CVN 79, the next USS John F Kennedy. We begin construction on a ship with the same mission and the same spirit but with new capabilities and a new generation of crew. To also still carry with her President Kennedy’s love, respect, and admiration for our country and our oceans. And with the initials CBK, those of my cousin Caroline Kennedy, she will also carry his love for family.

This will be present with you in Virginia and will be affixed to the ship during construction.

Hey David, can you hear me?

Yes sir, good morning. I copy you loud and clear.

To move this keel unit into the dry dock, get going.

When we lay the keel, work starts pouring into the dry dock very quickly and everything becomes wide open for the next three to four years.

I like to think of it as, and in a step by step process. But also you get through the chapters of the story. And with this one it’s a big book, it’s a long story.

You’ve gotta start and you’ve gotta stay focused on what you’re doing and you’ve gotta keep with it. You’ve gotta keep moving forward. Every chapter has its challenges but every instance we come to, we face head on. And we know that in the end we’re gonna be building one of the greatest ships in the world.

It definitely features your teamwork. If you haven’t had it before, you have it now. To be a part of a huge team, yes we all have our individual trades and our individual teams. But we’re all part of one big team working towards one common goal, and that’s to get this ship built.

It’s a lot of hard work to get to this point, it’s amazing. The island is used because of the look it gives to the carrier and we know there’s gonna be a lot of eyes and a lot of attention on us. We’re taking the work of everybody in the shipyard and all kinds of shops come down to one piece with us and we get to load it to the ship and bring everything together. And today with the island landing, taking this 530 metric ton island unit to flight deck really is gonna give this aircraft carrier its United States of America aircraft carrier look.

All right, y’all guys ready ’cause the flight deck is clear.

[Foreman] Yes sir, ready and able. All right let’s bring her to the ship, thank you sir.

Thank you, okay Mark they’re ready to go.

[Announcer] Three, two, one, go!

My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the christening of the John F Kennedy CVN 79. I’m Jennifer Dunn, Vice President of Communications at Newport News Ship Building. And it’s my pleasure to welcome you here this morning and to introduce our platform guests. If everyone could please remain standing as the official party takes its place on the platform. Please welcome Father Thomas Iannuci, US Navy Chaplain. Captain Todd Marzano, Perspective Commanding Officer, John F Kennedy CVN 79. Captain Jason Lloyd, Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Newport News. Rear Admiral James Downy, Program Executive Officer for Aircraft Carriers. Rear Admiral Roy Kelly, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic. The Honorable James Gertz, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition. Vice Admiral Thomas Moore, Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command. Admiral Christopher Grady, Commander, United States Fleet Forces Command. The daughters of our ship sponsor, Rose and Tatiana Schlossberg. Admiral Tom Fargo, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Huntington Ingalls Industries. The Honorable Elaine Luria, Second Congressional District Virginia. The Honorable Bobby Scott, Third Congressional District Virginia. The Honorable Mark Warner, US Senate Virginia. Admiral Frank Caldwell, Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. Mr. Mike Petters, President and CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries. The Honorable Thomas Modly, Acting Secretary of the Navy. The Honorable John Kerry, former Secretary of State. Major General Charles F Golden Jr, former NASA Administrator. Ms. Jennifer Boykin, President, Newport News Shipbuilding. And now please welcome Mr. Ed Schlossberg, escorting his wife, the sponsor of CVN 79, and daughter of President John F Kennedy, Ambassador Caroline Kennedy.

Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing for the Parade of Colors and the National Anthem. The Parade of Colors is by the US Naval Sea Cadet Corps Color Guard, John F Kennedy Division. This will be followed by the National Anthem performed by the United States Fleet Forces Band and Vocalist Musician Third Class Amanda Huttleston. Color Guard, parade the colors.

Left hand salute! Parade halt! Quick side march! Left turn, go! Parade halt! Present arms!

♪ Oh say can you see ♪ ♪ By the dawn’s early light ♪ ♪ What so proudly we hailed ♪ ♪ At the twilight’s last gleaming ♪ ♪ Whose broad stripes and bright stars ♪ ♪ Through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ O’er the ramparts we watched ♪ ♪ Were so gallantly streaming ♪ ♪ And the rockets’ red glare ♪ ♪ The bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ Gave proof through the night ♪ ♪ That our flag was still there ♪ ♪ Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave ♪ ♪ O’er the land of the free ♪ ♪ And the home of the brave ♪

Color guard, retire the colors.

Color guard, march! Right turn, march! Parade halt! Forward march!

Ladies and gentlemen, to deliver today’s invocation, please welcome Father Thomas Iannuci.

Let us pray. Lord our God, we gather here today welcoming a new ship into the world. But today we also remember a day that lives in infamy, when our nation came together with resolve, uniting all Americans from sea to shining sea. This is also a day to celebrate a new beginning as we gather here for the christening of the USS John F Kennedy. We are reminded, Lord, of that same resolve that Americans had in 1941, showing the world our continued and renewed strength by being a beacon of hope. We pray for Caroline, her family, and the entire Kennedy family as she christens another carrier in her father’s name. May her father’s patriotism, courage, and dedication be an example for all who sail in her. May the sailors, marines, and civilians serving in this ship make her a model of strength and integrity to serve faithfully when faced with every task. Lord watch over all the men and women who are finishing the construction of this war ship. We pray for the safety of all the workers here and for the crew, may they always remember the spirit of John F Kennedy knowing that this ship will not only be a deterrent to those who want to harm our nation but also a ship that brings assistance to those experiencing natural disasters. May she always be both a symbol of America’s might and a light of hope for those in need. Lord, as the world awakens to this new ship, help us remember that we need to strive to bring peace to the hardest places of our world and to ensure peace for everyone. Send your spirit to ensure safe passages for a lifetime of adventures on the waters. May all the hands who worked together and as a team to ensure her success and may she always be ready for whatever task asked of her. And may this great ship live up to the proud name that she carries forward. We ask everything in your most holy name, amen.

Please be seated. And now, please welcome Newport News Shipbuilding President, Ms. Jennifer Boykin.

Good morning, it is with great pride that I welcome you to Newport News Shipbuilding and to the christening of CVN 79 John F Kennedy. Distinguished platform guests, Huntington Ingalls Industries leadership, flag officers and service members past and present from all branches of the armed services, elected officials, union leadership, CVN 79 crew, shipbuilders, ladies and gentlemen, we are so pleased you could join us today and take part in this special event. I would like to extend a special thanks to Father Thomas Iannuci for delivering the invocation. As well as to the US Naval Sea Cadet Corps and the United States Fleet Forces Band for their roles in opening our ceremony with such patriotic pride. I’d also like to thank Musician Third Class Amanda Huttleston for her beautiful performance of the National Anthem, thank you all.

It’s an honor to welcome such an impressive crowd to our shipyard today as we prepare to celebrate the Navy’s newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. And the American hero for whom this ship is named. I would especially like to recognize Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, her husband Ed Schlossberg, and their daughters, Rose and Tatiana. To all the Kennedy family and friends, including representatives from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Foundation, welcome to Newport News.

We also have with us a number of former commanding officers and crew members from the first John F Kennedy CV 67, including the first commanding officer, Rear Admiral Buddy Yates. Thank you all for being here today.

For more than a century we have christened ships here at Newport News Shipbuilding. It is a Navy tradition in which we are honored to participate. But we are gathered today not to simply christen a ship. We are here to celebrate America’s military might and the brawn behind it. We are here to celebrate innovation, pride, and perseverance that is the American way. And we are here to honor the patriot who inspired it. Today also marks an important day in our country’s history, the 78th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Celebrating this ship’s milestone on Pearl Harbor today makes it even more poignant and relevant to reflect on our higher purpose in the defense of our nation’s freedom and in the perseverance of world peace. I speak for every Newport News Shipbuilder, all 25,000 strong, and the thousands of suppliers across the nation that support us when I say that we are proud to build the John F Kennedy CVN 79. Since the first cut of steel nine years ago, thousands of shipbuilders have brought incredible integrity, skill, and innovation to bear. Working around the clock in pouring down rain, unrelenting humidity, bitter cold, to create this magnificent marvel beside us. They continue to overcome physical and technological challenges that we refer to as the romance of shipbuilding and they rise to every challenge. Yet when you ask them to describe what they do, you will find a humble group. I recently met Mr. Roderick Smith, one of our welders who’s helping to build the Kennedy. He told me that he believes shipbuilders should feel the same pride as firefighters or police officers or teachers. Because of our contribution to the greater good. But he went on to say that because our ships take years to build and because of the harsh environment in which we often find ourselves, sometimes it’s difficult to see the big picture. We have invited every Newport News shipbuilder to this ceremony today and encouraged them to bring their families because I believe few things demonstrate the big picture better than this beautifully majestic ship rising from the floor of Dry Dock 12. But if seeing this ship doesn’t leave you awestruck, let me add one more thing. Our shipbuilders, the women and men of Newport News Shipbuilding, are the only people on the planet that can do this. They are our unsung heroes.

And so at this time, I would like to ask all of our shipbuilders and supplier representatives to please stand as we honor your contributions to the greater good.

Thank you all. President Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life “and those who look only to the past “or present are certain to miss the future.” As we honor the history of CV 67 and celebrate the current marvel that is CVN 79, we also look to the future. CVN 79 will be the last aircraft carrier built using traditional paper drawings. The next carrier, the Enterprise CVN 80, will be built digitally on tablets, incorporating today’s technology and everything we learned from building this ship. When President Kennedy asked Americans to be the pioneer in a new frontier, it was not a place but rather a way of thinking and acting to move our nation forward to the future of new discoveries in science and technology. And I am proud that his namesake ship is serving as our proving ground for the new frontier of digital shipbuilding. And I am even more proud that everyday, our shipbuilders answer President Kennedy’s challenge to ask what we can do for our country. With every foot of cable, every visual work instruction, with every kit of material, every design improvement, with every stroke of paint and every piece of steel, we build freedom and we are proud that for 133 years our founding principle and promise still rings true. Shipbuilders past and present, join me when I say, we shall build good ships here at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must. But always good ships. This is our solemn pledge to the Navy and to the nation and we are excited to welcome John F Kennedy CVN 79 into our family of good ships. Thank you.

It is now my pleasure to introduce one of our staunchest supporters who is currently serving in his 13th term in the US House of Representatives. As Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, he’s an advocate for putting workers first. Newport News Shipbuilding is proud to be located in his district and we appreciate his strong support of shipbuilding and the military. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Congressman Bobby Scott.

Thank you Ms. Boykin, good morning Newport News! It’s certainly an honor to be here with my Congressional colleagues, Senator Warner and Representative Elaine Luria at the world’s greatest shipyard for the christening of the second aircraft carrier John F Kennedy. I’d like to welcome Secretary Kerry, Major General Boldin, Secretary Modly, and all of our distinguished guests but especially Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. She’s now stranger to the Newport News Shipyard as you saw in the video. She christened the first aircraft carrier John F Kennedy. So we welcome, we’re pleased to have her back at this momentous occasion to serve as this ship’s sponsor. Today I welcome all of you to the finest shipbuilding facility in the United States, Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding. The nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers that are carefully constructed by talented shipbuilders are vital to our nation’s security and to the men and women of our Navy who respond to threats at home and abroad and act quickly to respond to humanitarian disasters around the globe. To ensure that our nation is capable of meeting these challenges, we must continue to invest in shipbuilding and continue to build the world’s most sophisticated and advanced ships. That’s why I was pleased that the Navy recently awarded a $22 billion contract for another nine Virginia class submarines that will be built right here in Newport News as well as Electric Boat in Connecticut. This is great news, so Secretary Modly, you’ve only been on the job for a couple of days. So far so good.

The ship we are christening today carries the name of our nation’s 35th President, John F Kennedy, whose life and service was tragically cut short. President Kennedy inspired a generation of Americans to build a better country and world through social and political action. He challenged the nation to do the impossible and land a man on the moon. He chartered a new path for American diplomacy and avoided a dangerous nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union. This aircraft carrier will continue that legacy. He understood the need for a strong military but he also appreciated the power of diplomacy. American aircraft carriers’ presence not only reflects our might but also serves as a symbol of our nation’s ability to provide humanitarian assistance all over the world. As I’ve mentioned before, this shipyard would not be able to build these technologically advanced ships without the hard work of our shipbuilders. Shipbuilding runs deep in this community. For 133 years, the men and women who work at this shipyard have been providing our Navy with the most advanced ships in the world. President Kennedy would be proud that this new ship that bears his name was built by the hardworking men and women at Newport News. As you heard in the video, President Kennedy once stated that let every nation know whether it wishes us well or ill, that we will pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty. The shipbuilders in Newport News who built the Kennedy make sure that our nation will continue to fulfill that promise, thank you.

Thank you, Congressman. Our next speaker is a familiar face here at the shipyard and he has long been a supporter of Newport News and our Navy customer. He was a successful technology and business leader before being elected Governor of Virginia in 2002. Today he’s serving his second term in the US Senate where he’s been recognized as a national leader in fighting for our military. Please join me in welcoming Senator Mark Warner.

So nice to see you. President Boykin, thank you so much. It’s an honor to celebrate this great day for our Navy, for our commonwealth, and for our country. To Ambassador Kennedy and our honored guests, allow me to welcome you to the commonwealth. As Ben already mentioned, December 7th is a somber day in our history. A reminder of both the sacrifice and courage displayed at Pearl Harbor 78 years ago. I think it’s fitting that today we christen this great ship in the honor of a man whose legacy is defined by courage. Both as a naval officer and as our Commander in Chief. It will stand as a testament to the service members gathered here today and the thousands who will serve with courage about the USS John F Kennedy. The truth is our aircraft carriers are the foundation of America’s stabilizing influence in an ever more turbulent world. But these floating cities also represent unmatched humanitarian and disaster relief capabilities. Empowering the Navy to exercise the compassion of the American people all around the world. We’re gathered in celebration of the Kennedy’s entrance into America’s storied carrier program. But it’s also a recognition of what it took to get here today. I wanna commend the nearly 5000 shipbuilders, each who’ve played an indispensable part in building this ship. They are truly the greatest shipbuilders in the world.

They also represent part of the long tradition of shipbuilding that we value so much here in the commonwealth. So much of our Naval history has been written right here in Hampton Roads and by the more than 800 ships built by Newport News Shipbuilding defines a significant part of that history. And as Bobby just mentioned, with the contract signed just this past week for nine new Virginia class submarines, that tradition will continue here in Newport News, sustaining thousands of jobs for many years to come. Smart investments in our military readiness and strong, consistent funding for our nation’s shipbuilding base are absolutely critical for advancing our national security, for sustaining American manufacturing jobs, and for strengthening communities all across Hampton Roads. So to our shipbuilders, to our men and women in uniform, and for all who have gathered here today, thank you. Thank you for what you do, and thank you for allowing me to join in the celebration of this great new carrier. God bless you all

Thank you Senator Warner. Our next speaker is no stranger to Newport News Shipbuilding or the Navy ships that we build. As a submariner, he’s served on sea tours in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets, including serving as the commanding officer of the USS Jacksonville. Today he serves as the Director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program where he has oversight for the safe, reliable and long-lived operation of all Naval nuclear propulsion plants. Please welcome Admiral Frank Caldwell.

Good morning and welcome. It is an honor to be here today to celebrate this great day for the Navy and the nation. This date, December 7th, serves as a reminder to all of us of the importance of a strong and ready US Navy. This date is also noteworthy because today, seven of our 11 aircraft carriers are at sea. And this carrier, the second in the Ford class, was built and designed with the future in mind to be ready to defend America. So it is fitting that this ship is named for President Kennedy, a leader who served in World War Two. A leader who challenged us as individuals to do more for our country and a leader who challenged us a nation to lead the world and to always look forward. Now compared with Nimitz class carriers, Kennedy will bring substantially greater combat power, including a 33% increase in sortie generation rate. Increased aircraft fuel storage. A larger flight deck and more space for aircraft maintenance and the ability to integrate future aircraft that we bring into the Navy. Because Kennedy has 25% more energy in her reactor core and three times the electrical generating capacity of a Nimitz class carrier, the Navy will be able to add combat capability to this ship over her 50-year lifespan. Now none of this would be possible without support from Congress. To our leaders here today, thank you for your support of the US Navy. Now nor would this be possible without the team of Newport News Shipbuilding, key suppliers from around the globe, and around our country, and hundreds of engineers and technical experts who made Kennedy a reality. I have seen this ship rise up from the keel to what she is today and I have seen innovation in construction, including the use of digital tools and advanced manufacturing methods. To the shipbuilders, you deserve to be proud today. You built this ship strong for America. To Ambassador Kennedy, your leadership and engagement with this ship will be a source of pride and inspiration for all sailors who ever serve on Kennedy. Thank you, and congratulations to you and your family. And finally, to Captain Marzano and the crew of the Kennedy, you will represent a President who had deep ties to the US Navy. Your charge is to be the shining example for all others in defense of the nation. I can imagine nothing more rewarding than to be able to say I served in USS John F Kennedy. And we cannot predict what the future will hold for this carrier, but we do know this. Kennedy will be the envy of every other Navy in the world with the most capable design, built by the very best, operated by the finest sailors in our Navy and forever guided by the vision of President John F Kennedy. Thank you, and God bless Kennedy and all who shall sail in her.

Thank you, Admiral Caldwell. Our next speaker also comes from the military, having served as a helicopter pilot and as Assistant Professor of Political Science at the United States Air Force Academy. He served as the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Financial Management in 2017, was sworn in as the 33rd Undersecretary of the Navy. Today he is currently serving as Acting Secretary of the Navy. Please welcome the Honorable Thomas Modly.

Thanks Jennifer for the introduction. And Ambassador Kennedy, members of the Kennedy family, distinguished guests, members of the Newport News shipbuilding community and as I was learning more about you, we talk a lot about the blessings we have as a nation. I think our shipbuilding capability and you shipbuilders are one of our greatest blessings. So thank you for what you do everyday. Thank you also for everyone else who’s here from the community and for the opportunity for me to share a few thoughts for you on this cold morning, but it’s a beautiful morning. Having the opportunity to represent the Department of the Navy and to participate in the christening of a ship like this with its historical significant and linkage to the legacy of a great American President is something I will always treasure. This ship represents what President John F Kennedy meant to the United States of America and to the world. Today, on the morning of December 7th, which we’ve heard, we are all reminded of how just 78 years ago our entire nation bonded together and sent its youth into service to preserve this republic and to free the world from the tyrannical forces that had engulfed it. We now call these former young Americans the Greatest Generation, but they never considered themselves that. And they certainly would not have even considered naming themselves that. And that is precisely why the title, the Greatest Generation, suits them so perfectly. Their courage defined them but their humility in victory is what elevated them for eternity. And it is what obliges us to honor them forever. So on the anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor it is right that we christen for the second time in our Naval history a ship named for someone who actually distinguished himself among this incredible generation of patriots. As we all know, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was a member of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate and he ultimately became what we remember him most, a young, vibrant, and strategically focused President and Commander in Chief. But before all that, but perhaps maybe even above all that even to him, he was a Naval officer just like so many others who answered the call and served with valor on the vast ocean battlefields of World War Two. As President, he lifted our ambitions towards the skies and challenged the nation to be better, to be a more perfect union while at the same time remaining very aware of the existential dangers we were facing from a very aggressive adversary who simply wanted to destroy us. He taught us that deterrence will always cost less than war, that the purpose of our military, including this warship that bears his name, must be to ensure our nation’s commitment to peace and prosperity for ourselves and for all nations of the world. President Kennedy always loved the Naval Service and all it represents and I think he really would’ve loved this ship. But what we love about him and his legacy to our Navy and Marine Corps team today are these things. Bold vision, unrelenting courage, decisiveness under pressure, and tragically, the ultimate sacrifice in the name of service to the nation. It is a sacrifice the Kennedy family has had to endure more times than any one family should. Ambassador Kennedy, I believe the most fitting words any American can utter on this occasion, when contemplating what the Kennedy family means to our enduring American legacy, are those which President Lincoln wrote to Ms. Lidia Bixby, who herself lost five sons in the Civil War. President Lincoln said, “I feel how weak and fruitless “must be any words of mine which should attempt “to beguile you from the grief “of a loss so overwhelming. “But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation “that may be found in the thanks “of the Republic they died to save. “I pray that our Heavenly Father “may assuage the anguish of your bereavement “and leave you only the cherished memory “of the loved and the lost and the solemn pride “that must be yours to have laid “so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.” Ambassador Kennedy, this ship and the sailors who will bring her to life, bearing your father’s name, your family’s name, will sail boldly into an unpredictable future with the very same spirit that President Kennedy bequeathed to all of us. A spirit that boldly affirms that it is only through strength and sacrifice that we can achieve an enduring peace. Thank you for being here today to christen her as she begins her journey to the seas. The same seas that your father and your two uncles served with honor and where our Navy goes every day to keep us safe and free. Go Navy, go John F Kennedy, and of course, as always, beat Army, thank you.

Thank you very much Senator Modly. I now have the pleasure of introducing our next speaker who is here today as a special guest of Ambassador Kennedy. He enlisted in the Navy in 1966 after graduating from Yale University and served in the Vietnam War during which he earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts. He went on to serve his country in the Senate from 1985 until 2013 and continued to serve as Secretary of State under the Obama Administration. During the course of his duties as Secretary of State, he swore in Caroline Kennedy as Japan’s first female US Ambassador. Please welcome John Kerry.

Caroline Kennedy said swearing her in was my greatest accomplishment.

Father Iannuci, my former colleagues, Senator Warner, Congressman Bobby Scott, Secretary Modly, General Bolden, Admiral Caldwell and of course, my friend, the incredible public citizen for whom this day is immeasurably personal, Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and the Schlossberg and Kennedy families. It’s a huge privilege to be here in this city which has long defined American shipbuilding to christen this aircraft carrier which will define American power, sea power in the 21st century and is named after a 20th Century President who defined the power of our ideals for all time. Yes, this is a very special day because it is Pearl Harbor Day but also because we honor the skill of the remarkable people who have built this gift to their country and we thank them for their patriotism. It’s an honor for me to be a small part of this as two families that taught me so much are bound together today. The Kennedys and the United States Navy. I was a teenager when a young John Kennedy inspired me and so many others to public service. Not much older when I was a volunteer for Ted Kennedy’s 1962 campaign after… Well, difficult times. And I had the incredible chance to meet President Kennedy and a five year old who America simply knew then as Caroline. Never could I have imagined that I was gonna grow up to be Senator Kennedy’s junior partner for 25 years in the Senate or serve in the State Department with Caroline as our ambassador in Tokyo. In between, I was privileged to learn something about aircraft carriers thanks to the best education of all, the United States Navy. I remember as a Lieutenant JG, Officer of the Deck, working with aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin and struggling somehow to follow the wake when they made a sudden turn, running dark at night for flight ops. It was an extraordinary experience. And I saw, up close and personal, how these mammoth carriers are both powerful ambassadors and potent deterrents which extend our interests and project our power around the world. How true it was what President Kennedy said aboard Kitty Hawk, “Control of the sea means security. “Control of the sea can mean peace. “Control of the sea can mean victory.” And so it was then and so it is now. When this carrier is sea bound, so it will be in 2022. President Kennedy challenged my generation to reach for the future. This carrier is a fitting tribute not just to the President who set us on course to the heavens, but who never forgot our connection to the deep blue ocean below. A sailor at home on the open water and a Navy veteran who once reminded us that we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean and when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it, we are going back from whence we came. History will decide where John F Kennedy will journey. But President Kennedy would be the first to tell us that her legacy will not be defined by the name on her hull any more than it will be defined by a five-acre flight deck. No, President Kennedy was so much a Navy man that he knew that the people who will really give this vessel life and legacy are the men and women, the sailors, airmen and marines, who will call this floating city their home and write the story of America’s security with pride and professionalism wherever she will take them. It was the truest tribute from a Commander in Chief who shared with all the cadets at Annapolis that anyone who may be asked in this century what he did to make life worthwhile, and today that speech would say he or she, can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, “I served in the United States Navy.” And so with our eyes glistening, honoring the past even as we fix our gaze as President Kennedy commanded us to on the horizon ahead, today we bid John F Kennedy safe passage wherever she sails and know that all aboard will live by its motto, “Serve with courage.” God bless President Kennedy, God bless the Navy, and God bless the United States of America.

Thank you Secretary Kerry. Our next speaker is someone for whom Ambassador Kennedy has great admiration both for his military service and his commitment to America’s space program, one of her father’s most important legacies. As an American astronaut, Major General Charles F Bolden Jr voyaged into space four times. He also served as NASA Administrator during the Obama Administration and was the first African American to hold this position. During his tenure, Major General Bolden oversaw the end of the Space Shuttle Program and he worked on several of the agency’s exploration projects, including the Curiosity Rover, which landed on Mars in 2012. Prior to his work with NASA, the US Naval Academy graduate was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, where he became a pilot flying more than 100 combat missions in the Vietnam War. Please give a warm Newport News welcome to Major General Charles Bolden.

Wow. Let me say first of all, I have an apology that I’m gonna make to all of you before I speak. Because in a second I’m gonna put my glasses on so I can read my notes.

For the kids, I am not trying to be cool as my glasses go from clear to dark.

You see, I have these expensive transition lenses that will transition as I speak.

I do wanna thank Secretary, thank you for being here with us and I wanna thank your predecessor, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, for honoring me by inviting me to be the speaker today. And I also want to thank Ambassador Kennedy for sponsoring this ship and its predecessor as well as for your recommendation that I be invited to speak today. Hopefully you will not regret that after having heard all of the awesome speakers who make me feel pretty humble right now preceding me. Your work to preserve your family’s legacy and to build bridges of understanding across the world is an inspiration to all of us. To the men and women of Newport News Shipbuilding, and to you Jennifer who lead them, whose skills and abilities we have brought this great ship to this point in its construction, let me add my appreciation and say just simply thank you. As we observe, as others have said, a date which will live in infamy, on this 78th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, this magnificent vehicle vessel we see before us is a symbol of a nation’s strength, our technical achievements, and of the critical service our men and women in uniform provide for this nation and the entire world. This carrier is also a tangible example of the legacy of a great man who risked his own life volunteering for hazardous duty in the Pacific during World War Two in the wake of Pearl Harbor. And later came to embody a time of optimism that he translated into a vision for taking humans beyond the sphere of our planet. CVN 79, the USS John F Kennedy, will join an elite group of powerful aircraft carriers whose capabilities are unmatched across the world. It succeeds the first carrier named after President Kennedy and provides continuity for his legacy. It is a tribute to the United States Navy’s ongoing commitment to innovation and strengthened capabilities. Today I speak to you as a US Naval Academy graduate, whose fortunate career spanned decades in the United States Marine Corps and also as an astronaut and former administrator of NASA who benefited from the support that President Kennedy provided for our fledgling human spaceflight program. He changed my life, as he did so many others. Even if I didn’t know it at the time. When President Kennedy challenged this nation to land humans on the moon within a decade in speeches to Congress and later at Rice University nearly 60 years ago, many thought it was an impossible dream. President Kennedy’s call for us to reach the moon, while not immediately supported by a majority of Americans, would shape my generation and those to come, millions of us pursued science and technology careers. That call continues to resonate as we strive to land the first woman and the next man on the moon and to continue on to Mars and do ever more amazing things in space. Our nation’s leadership in space has, for generations, enabled us to exert the soft power that has helped galvanize many nations of all sizes and political makeups to work with us toward higher goals for humanity. Nations around the world offer their brightest and bravest for this challenging task. It requires a commitment and a selflessness not unlike military service. Indeed, the partnership between NASA and the military is long and deep. This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. Neil Armstrong performed the perilous final seconds of that historic journey, relying on his piloting skills as a Naval aviator. Neil served in the Korean War flying from another great aircraft carrier. He and Buzz Aldrin are joined by pioneers like John Glenn, Gene Cernan, Alan Shepherd, as well as many men and women in our Astronaut Corps today who came to the space program from the military. Specifically, the US Navy and Marine Corps. That spirit of teamwork and the greater bond that benefits us all is still alive and well at NASA today. It also still courses through the US Navy and all branches of our services. It’s a spirit that President Kennedy understood when he told Congress, and I quote, “It will not be one man going to the moon. “It will be an entire nation, for all of us “must work to put him there,” unquote. He went on to add quote, “I am asking Congress “and the country to accept a firm commitment “to a new course of action, a course which will last “for many years and carry heavy cost,” unquote. The President didn’t hide the challenges we’d face in committing to this endeavor and they were more than just technical. But our citizens together have shared the successes and also, sometimes, the tragedies that come with being a nation that does big things. Things that may sometimes seem impossible. President Kennedy faced the daunting geopolitical situation when he entered the White House but he left us an energized space program and also formed the Peace Corps and worked to limit nuclear testing, among many other accomplishments. All of these things contribute today to the relative peace that service members preserve, protect, and strengthen. It is a mantle of sacrifice and dedication, woven across centuries that my generation also strove to live up to. In his Rice University speech, President Kennedy said, “We set sail on this new sea because there is a knowledge “to be gained and new rights to be won. “And they must be won and used “for the progress of all people.” But the vision of that young President was rooted in the knowledge that the American experiment itself was an incredible miracle. It’s a miracle made possible by men and women of uncommon foresight, determination, and courage, who dared to turn an impossible dream into a new and enduring reality. Those of us in the service and every engaged citizen continued to experiment today. By the time we landed on the moon, people around the world felt connected to our great achievement. It was something that not just the United States, but all of humanity had accomplished together. In his inaugural address President Kennedy had said, “Together, together let us explore the stars.” And we did, and we will. Our nation is still young in its spirit to explore. A piece of moon rock resides in the stained glass at the National Cathedral in Washington as an emblem of just how solemnly that spirit lives in the soul of our nation. It’s one of the many ways President Kennedy’s spirit lives on today. When I gathered with my Naval Academy cohorts around a small black and white television to watch the Apollo 11 landing in July 1969, it was about more than us. That much everyone knew, even if we couldn’t articulate the enormity of what was happening. But for us young Naval aviators, it was also a testament to all that was good and strong and inspiring about this great nation as we prepared to deploy overseas and defend it. NASA and the military are both in the future business. Both forged by different seas, the men and women of the Navy take to the seas that are still one of the greatest, the last great exploration frontiers of our planet. To reach distant shores where our nation’s interests may lie and the Astronaut Corps, whose missions were begun by President Kennedy, continue to be forged by the sea of space as we strive to take humanity even farther into the solar system. There will always be more journeys, more questions, and more discoveries. This, this incredible ship before us today is both one of the biggest instruments of deterrence that exists and it also carries our nation’s pride and hopes for a better world. The USS John F Kennedy will sail our seas proudly. It will be christened with a name that has left its mark in the hearts of all Americans. And it represents the strength and hope for a better tomorrow that have always led our nation to be its best. Now as I become a member of the family here, now.

To Captain Todd Marzano, you and Command Master Chief Thad Wright, and to the crew of this great ship, Godspeed. Our nation needs you and honors you. May the winds of destiny propel your journeys and fulfill the purpose for which this vessel was built. As you sail this mighty vessel through the great ocean of our planet, I encourage you to take the creed of my shipmate and friend, former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis as your own, to all potential adversaries you encounter. Let them know that in you, the men and women of the USS John Kennedy, they will have no better friend or no worse enemy. The choice is theirs. May the vision of the President whose name is emblazoned on this ship inspire you and carry you to the farthest shores and home again, may God bless each of you and your families and may he bless, continue to bless, these great United States of America.

Thank you for your remarks, General Bolden. It is now my distinct pleasure to introduce our ship’s sponsor, the daughter of President John F Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She served as sponsor of the first John F Kennedy aircraft carrier and christened that ship right here in Newport News in 1967 when she was just nine years old. Since then she’s gone on to become an attorney and author, a community activist, a wife, and a mother. She is also the first woman and the first child of a Pacific war veteran to serve as United States Ambassador to Japan. In her beautiful tribute to her father that is printed in your christening program, Ambassador Kennedy references her father’s courage as a source of strength and inspiration. As her father’s daughter, Ambassador Kennedy will no doubt offer that same source of strength and inspiration all her own as the Kennedy ship sponsor. Please join me in welcoming to the podium Ambassador Caroline Kennedy.

Thank you Jennifer and good morning everyone. It’s an honor to be here with so many people who have dedicated their lives in service to our country. Sailors, shipbuilders, Senators, space explorers, Secretaries, and all of your families. The last time I was in Newport News, I was nine years old, overwhelmed by the responsibility of christening CV 67, the John F Kennedy. Then I was here with my grandmother, my mother, my brother, my uncles, aunts and cousins. We tried to leave a little room for the President and everyone else. And I never imagined that one day I would be standing here again in the same spot with my husband Ed and my own children, Rose and Tatiana. Just as awestruck by the power of the US Navy and the patriotism of what happens here in Newport News. And I certainly never dreamed that President Kennedy would be honored a second time by a magnificent aircraft carrier that bears his name. This ship will represent the ideals he lived by. Courage, sacrifice, a belief in freedom. And it will help make real his vision of a more just America and a more peaceful world. On behalf of my family I wanna thank everyone who has made this day possible. It means so much to me that John Kerry and Charles Bolden are here. I can’t think of two people who better represent President Kennedy’s legacy and America’s role in the world. My father’s love of the sea and the Senate and Massachusetts, his commitment to explore the oceans of outer space, and address the injustices of society here at home. I am so grateful for your friendship. Senator Warner and Congressman Scott, Congresswoman Luria, thank you and all the members of Congress who shepherd Navy ships through the rough seas of Capitol Hill and thanks also to the Commonwealth of Virginia and these communities that have welcomed us today. President Jennifer Boydkin, the leader of this amazing enterprise, who has made this visit so meaningful to me and my family. Secretary Modly and Secretaries Spencer and Mavis before you who each gave this ship and this day their personal attention. Thank you Admiral Caldwell and the Navy program managers, engineers, and technicians who will ensure that when this carrier joins the fleet, she is ready to answer our nation’s call. Captain Marzano, Captain Scorosey and Command Master Chief Wright, the CVN 79 crew is fortunate to have such distinguished leaders. And most importantly we salute the men and women who are building her. This is your day and our chance to say thank you. Being a family member of people who have served on the front lines of freedom, I know the pride and the pain that can go along with that. And having served overseas in the State Department myself, I know how much it matters that your family is with you. In person when they can be, and in spirit always. So I would like to recognize also the family members of those who are building this ship and readying her for service and of those who will sail in her for years to come. I’m so proud to be the sponsor of this ship.

And to join with all of you to bring her to life. I look forward to being a part of her odyssey and of her extended family. Most of all I hope she will carry my father’s spirit with her as she sails. His leadership in war time, his courage in crisis, and his commitment to the hard and steady work of building peace. As most Americans learn in school, we heard today, when John F Kennedy was a young Lieutenant in the Second World War, his Peking boat was sunk by the Japanese destroyer, Amagiri. Two crewmen were killed and my father helped the rest swim to safety. The courage and leadership he demonstrated then were the same qualities he would need during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the fight for civil rights. PT 29 was made into a Hollywood movie but what most people don’t know is that the story didn’t end there. After the war and throughout the 1950s, my father corresponded with the Japanese destroyer captain. Like my father and so many other veterans, Captain Hinami returned to his country and entered public service too. He became the mayor of his town in Fukushima. And one of the most powerful moments I had as Ambassador to Japan was meeting his widow. She showed me her most treasured possession, a photo of President Kennedy which he had signed. To Captain Hinami, late enemy, present friend. My father had hoped to be the first sitting President to visit Japan, he wanted to demonstrate the power of reconciliation and America’s commitment to countries that share our values. Democracy, respect for human rights, and the rule of law. Those are the qualities that made my father the President that he was and that the officers and crew of this ship will need as they face today’s world in conflict. What President Kennedy and Captain Hinami understood, and what our service men and women live everyday, is the importance of keeping peace, preserving freedom, bridging divides, and forging a common humanity. Thanks to countless acts of friendship and sacrifice over generations, today there are no two closer allies than the United States and Japan. And as we mark the anniversary of the day our countries went to war, we remember the sacrifices of those we lost. And we can take pride in the peace that we have built and to sustain for 75 years. We look forward to, in President Kennedy’s words, what together we can do for the freedom of man. We pray that God will keep the John F Kennedy safe and we wish for her fair winds and following seas. Thank you.

Thank you for your very kind remarks, Ambassador Kennedy. The relationship between a ship’s sponsor and her crew is a special one. When she christens the ship today, Ambassador Kennedy will not only officially name CVN 79 for her father, it is said that she will also impart her spirit onto this ship and her crew. Ladies and gentlemen, it is now the moment we have all been waiting for. I would like to ask Ambassador Kennedy and her family, Major General Bolden, Secretary Kerry, and the CVN 79 commanding officer, Captain Marzano to please join me as we make our way to the bottle break platform. When we get to the bottle break platform, you will hear a whistle sound, the shipyard whistle, which signals it’s time to christen CVN 79. As we make our way over, the John F Kennedy Middle School Choir will provide us with the special patriotic performance. All right, is everybody ready shall we?

♪ Oh beautiful for spacious skies ♪ ♪ For amber waves of grain ♪ ♪ Your purple mountain majesties ♪ ♪ Above the fruited plain ♪ ♪ America, America ♪ ♪ God shed his grace on thee ♪ ♪ And crown thy good with brotherhood ♪ ♪ From sea to shining sea ♪ ♪ Oh beautiful for patriot dreams ♪ ♪ That see beyond the years ♪ ♪ Thine alabaster cities gleam ♪ ♪ Undimmed by human tears ♪ ♪ America, America ♪ ♪ God shed his grace on thee ♪ ♪ And crown thy good with brotherhood ♪ ♪ From sea to shining sea ♪ ♪ America ♪ ♪ America ♪ ♪ My home ♪

I had forgotten about those. They don’t know what they’re saying. (siren drowning out speech) As soon as it’s all done. No, I think it’s from problems before. (siren drowning out speech) Okay.

I christen the United States ship John F Kennedy. May God bless this ship and all who sail in her.

They will, everybody will only see…

[Conductor] Whoa, there we go.

As we bring today’s celebration to a close, I’d like to thank the John F Kennedy Middle School Choir for their outstanding performance.

And how ’bout Carrier Air Wing Three for that spectacular flyover!

I’d also like to congratulate Ambassador Kennedy. That was a home run swing and we’re all wearing champagne. That’s how it should be done.

Ambassador Kennedy, if you’d join me on the podium. We have one final duty to perform and that’s to present you with the bottle, or what’s left of it, and if Captain Marzano.

All right.

Thank you both. Special thanks to the christening team from across the shipyard who coordinated today’s event. This is no small feat to put on a celebration of this magnitude and we appreciate all of your efforts.

Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes our ceremony. Thank you for coming, have a wonderful day, and please be safe as you leave, thank you.

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