Civilian support needed for ship’s commissioning

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

OXFORD – The USS Mississippi, a nuclear-powered attack submarine, will be commissioned June 2 in Pascagoula, and its friends are seeking help. Federal money cannot be used for the commissioning ceremony, so the Navy League of the United States and the affiliated USS Mississippi Commissioning Committee are busy raising funding for the event.
“We set a goal of $300,000,” said Mark McDonald, chairman of the Meridian Area Navy League’s commissioning committee. “That’s based largely on what the Missouri group did for the USS Missouri commissioning.”
The Meridian group will be responsible for five events from a reception for crew members to a public celebration expected to attract up to 7,000 people.
“The USS Mississippi is a public vessel. The citizens of the United States own it, so there will be opportunities for citizens in small batches to tour it,” McDonald said.
In addition to recruiting major supporters, the committee is selling commemorative coins at $10 each.
After the commissioning, the Meridian Area Navy League will continue providing support for the ship’s crew. With gubernatorial support, the group hopes to change its name to the Mississippi Navy League.
In addition to the USS Mississippi and the USS John C. Stennis, which was commissioned in 1995, the USS Jackson and the USNS Choctaw County will soon add to the nearly 40 naval vessels that have borne names with Mississippi connections.
“When you look at the naval history that Mississippi has had, it’s unmatched,” McDonald said.
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