On February 13th, NAACP San Diego Branch President Clovis Honoré was invited to address the officers and men of the USS Somerset, an “amphibious transport dock” of the US Navy. Contrary to its rather pedestrian job title, the Somerset is an advanced part not only of the Navy’s ability to support amphibious warfare, but also has played crucial roles in humanitarian relief efforts. As easily as it can put Marines on a beach, it can take threatened civilians off a beach.
EC3 Penrose, a member of the Somerset’s Cultural Diversity Committee, asked the NAACP if we could supply a speaker for their Black History Month program, and we were very happy to do so.
We arrived during the middle of a security drill, which made getting on base rather more difficult, but EC3 Penrose sent FC1 Watkins to our aid, and we were soon boarding the Somerset. Once there, we were greeted by Executive Officer Brayton. After setting up for our talk, Captain Bateshansky arrived, and greeted us warmly.
Mr Honoré’s talk was listened to with interest by the 100 or so sailors present. Sadly, his remarks were extemporaneous, and we cannot provide a transcript. However, you may view the talk in its entirety above.
After the conclusion of his talk, the men and women of the Somerset crowded eagerly around to ask questions and take pictures with Mr Honoré.
Finally, we were given a tour of the ship, led by DC2 Vaugh, the Somerset’s Sailor of the Year. The tour was fascinating, including the ship’s museum. In the museum (and throughout the ship) are memorabilia of the victims and families of United Flight 93. Flight 93 was the flight whose passengers took back from the 9/11 hijackers and prevented its being used as a weapon, at sacrifice of their own lives. The USS Somerset was christened in their honor, and bears the name of Somerset County where the flight crashed.
It was a solemn and moving experience to present aboard the Somerset, and we look forward to cementing a strong relationship with the Armed Forces, not only aboard the Somerset but across all of San Diego.