Son of USS Port Royal Sailor is baptized in ship’s bell

Air Force Maj. Christine Blice-Baum (right), senior protestant chaplain for Hickam Nelles Chapel, baptizes the son of Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Hoekstra and his wife Danae during a baptism ceremony aboard the forecastle of the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73).

Air Force Maj. Christine Blice-Baum (right), senior protestant chaplain for Hickam Nelles Chapel, baptizes the son of Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Hoekstra and his wife Danae during a baptism ceremony aboard the forecastle of the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73).

Story and photo by MC2 Robert Stirrup

Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

Sailors aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73) witnessed one of the Navy’s oldest traditions as the son of a Port Royal Sailor was baptized during a ceremony held on the ship’s forecastle April 26.

The son of Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Hoekstra, Port Royal’s operations officer, and his wife Danae, was baptized in the ship’s bell by Air Force Chaplain Maj. Christine BliceBaum, senior protestant chaplain for Hickam Nelles Chapel.

The bell’s connection to religious origins is longstanding. Originating in the British Royal Navy, it is a custom to baptize a child under the ship’s bell or to use the bell as a christening bowl, filled with water for the ceremony. Once the baptism is completed, the child’s name may be inscribed in the ship’s bell.

Hoekstra stated that his service in the Navy played a large part in the decision to have his son baptized on the ship.

“Being in the Navy is a huge part of my life and it was a big deciding factor in having the baptism on the ship. Also, the ship is like a family to the Sailors on board and it’s part of my family, and I wanted to share this experience with my extended my family,” Hoekstra said. “This also was a unique opportunity and something that is not done very often.”

Hoekstra also spoke about what the baptism meant to him and his family.

“The focus of the ceremony was to welcome my son into the family of God. I spend a lot of time on the ship, my wife and son support me being here, and being able to share this moment back with them means a lot to me,” said Hoekstra.

Blice-Baum said this was her first baptism aboard a Navy ship and she took pleasure in being able to conduct the ceremony.

“It was great to be able to come aboard a ship and I was tremendously honored to be asked to be involved in this ceremony here today,” Blice-Baum said.

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Category: News