Boosters of the U.S. Navy’s future USS Arlington say they are on their way to achieving fund-raising goals in support of the ship and its crew, but that efforts now need to move into high gear.
“We have to get the word out every day,” said Jim Pebley, a retired Navy commander who is leading the local effort in support of the ship, which is slated for commissioning in Norfolk on April 6.
Pebley told County Board members on Nov. 27 that local efforts, combined with those of Navy League of Hampton Roads, have brought in contributions and pledges totaling $220,000 toward the $500,000 planned in support of commissioning efforts, which will support the crew and provide a room on the ship related to Arlington.
Pebley said the ship would support humanitarian and military efforts across the globe, and “will carry our county’s name to hundreds of ports” during its anticipated 40-year lifespan.
The 24,900-ton, 684-foot ship was launched in late 2010 and christened in March 2011 in Mississippi. It recently completed Navy acceptance trials, another key step on the road to commissioning.
County leaders are behind the community effort, having appropriated $50,000 and publicly encouraged residents to make plans for the commissioning ceremony. County Board Chairman Mary Hynes said it would prove to be a “once-in-a-lifetime event.”
“It’s never too early to start planning” for the ceremony, said Vice Chairman Walter Tejada, who is likely to move up to the chairmanship in 2013 and will therefore represent the county at commissioning ceremonies.
As part of fund-raising efforts, organizers are planning a Jan. 31 sponsors’ reception at Army Navy Country Club, and have invited Gov. McDonnell, a number of U.S. senators past and present, and Joyce Rumsfeld, the sponsor of the ship.
For updates on the progress of the ship and the commissioning ceremony, see the website at www.ussarlingtonlpd24.org.