From Shipyard Bulletin NEWPORT NEWS
Shipbuilding and Drydock Company
Sponsor, Mrs. Homer L. Ferguson
The heavy cruiser NEWPORT NEWS was christened March 6, 1947, in Building Dock Eleven, at 10:45 AM, before an enthusiastic crowd of visitors, townspeople, and employees of the Company, numbering around twenty thousand.
Chilly weather and a threat of snow went unnoticed during the impressive ceremonies which included as participants the Honorable William M. Tuck, Governor of Virginia; Honorable John L. Sullivan, Under-Secretary of the Navy; Honorable R. Cowles Taylor, Mayor of the City of NEWPORT NEWS; Rear Admiral W. L. Ainsworth, USN, Commandant Fifth Naval District; Captain A. O. Gieselmann, USN, Supervisor of Shipbuilding, USN at our Yard; Captain H. Dumstrey, (CHC)USN; Homer L Ferguson, Chairman of the Board of Directors for our Company; and J. B. Woodward, Jr., President and General Manager of our Company. Music was furnished by the bands of the NEWPORT NEWS High School and the Shipyard Community Center.
The climax of the occasion was the well directed christening smash of the Sponsor, Mrs. Homer L. Ferguson, that sent the champagne flying through the air and trickling down the hull into the water which floated the vessel. She was attended by Mrs. R. Cowles Taylor, Matron of Honor.
This was the day that the folks on the Peninsula of Virginia had long awaited - the day, when after sixty-one years as shipbuilders and fifty years of Navy shipbuilding, they could see a first-class fighting ship named after their leading city. The Mayor of NEWPORT NEWS had proclaimed the day as "NEWPORT NEWS Cruiser Day" and had asked for a display of flags. County executives and the city officials of Hampton cooperated to make it a gala occasion, while planes from Langley Field staged a thirty-minute aerial exhibition. Shipyard employees were given an hour off to see their handiwork the center of interest. To top it all off it was Homer L. Ferguson's birthday.
Throughout the carefully executed program which began at 10:15AM, great tribute was paid to the Yard's efforts. Mr. Ferguson paid particular tribute to the employees for their good citizenship in operating the Yard for more than sixty years without having the gates closed, through dissension, for a single day. "After forty-two years of service with you and your predecessors, I testify to your industry, to your skill, to your unexcelled steadiness, and to your courtesy," he said in part.
Following the christening, J.B. Woodward, Jr., extended greetings to the assembled throng on behalf of the Yard and then presented a silver punch bowl and tray to Mrs. Ferguson, stating, "This gift carries with it the love and esteem of the community." She replied, "I am most proud to have been chosen sponsor for the NEWPORT NEWS, and I want thank you for this fine gift."
At the completion of the activities in the Yard members of the launching party and guests attended a luncheon at the James River Country Club.
The launching of the heavy cruiser NEWPORT NEWS marked more than fifty years of Naval shipbuilding by the Company. Though not exclusively engaged in the building of Naval vessels, the Company has delivered to the US Navy 115 such vessels of every major type, beginning with the Gunboats NASHVILLE and WILMINGTON completed here in 1897.
This latest addition to the country's sea arm is of the Des Moines Class, with a full load displacement of 21,000 tons. The vessel is 716 feet in length, armed with 9 eight-inch guns, 12 five-inch double purpose weapons, plus other anti-aircraft armament. The speed of the NEWPORT NEWS is rated at better than 30 knots. Her complement includes 110 officers and 1750 enlisted personnel.
Complete air-conditioning equipment built into the NEWPORT NEWS is of the latest in naval design. Embodied in the NEWPORT NEWS are other construction changes and improvements prompted by Naval battle experiences of the recent war.