USS Laboon baptizes namesake at Naval Station Norfolk

NAVAL STATION NORFOLK — The guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon hosted a baptism ceremony for the great grandniece of whom the ship is named after.

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NORFOLK (Aug. 28, 2018) Lt. Mark Cook, a chaplain serving on board the guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58) addresses family and friends during a baptism ceremony. Liv Malone Laboon, great grandniece of Capt. John Francis Laboon, the ship’s namesake, was baptized in the ship’s bell during a ceremony held on the flight deck. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Wolpert/Released)

In one of the oldest Navy traditions, the great grandniece of Capt. John Francis Laboon was baptized on the ship Tuesday.

The baptism involved the ship’s bell as the baptismal font, and water sprinkled on the baby’s head from every body of water the ship operated in during their most recent deployment, according to the Navy, which added that it symbolizes the act of joining the Christian church.

“Any time we are able to connect with the Laboon family, it provides a fantastic opportunity to honor and reflect on our ship’s namesake,” said Cmdr. Robert Lightfoot, Laboon’s commanding officer. “To be able to meet his family builds our sense of heritage and pride in this ship.”

Lt. Mark Cook is Laboon’s resident chaplain and performed the baptism. And while he has done countless baptisms before, he certainly expressed how special this one was.

“It is unique to use the ship’s bell,” Cook said. “In a sense, now, she has traveled with us on our most recent deployment, not only by her name, but now symbolically through the water we have collected. We are honored that the Laboon family would choose to share such a personal event with us and the choice reinforces that the crew is not only a family, but part of the Laboonfamily.”

The name of the great grandniece was engraved on the ship’s bell to dedicate the day and to commemorate her close tie to the ship and U.S. Navy traditions, according to the Navy.

Laboon is named after Capt. John Francis Laboon, who was awarded the Silver star during World War II while serving on the Gato-class submarine, USS Peto (SS 265).

The guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58) returned to Naval Station Norfolk in June following a five-month independent deployment in support of ballistic missile defense and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. Navy’s 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.