USS SHENANDOAH| Commissioning

At 08:00, 15 August 1983, USS SHENANDOAH (AD 44) was officially commissioned in San Diego, and the remainder of Balance 1 crew of 294 reported on board from the precomissioning detail in Norfolk, VA.


Captain Thomas M. McNicholas, Jr.

“The crew has been entrusted with the challenge to make SHENANDOAH the best ship possible—That is our charter—That is what our Navy and our fellow citizens expect of us. I have every confidence that we will not disappoint them…

As we move forward to accept the challenge, remember always to be loyal to yourself and to your ideals, loyal to your ship and its mission, and loyal to your shipmates. My hope is that SHENANDOAH’s plankowners—each and every one—will have no more fond or more satisfying memory than to have been a member of this special crew that commissioned UNITED STATES SHIP SHENANDOAH.

May SHENANDOAH always serve with honor and distinction.”

—From Commanding Officer’s Address to Newly Assembled Crew; Captain T. M. McNicholas, Jr.

Meanwhile, back in Norfolk…

A similar cake cutting was held in Norfolk, VA at Building L-28, with the same tradition of oldest and youngest crew members performing the honors.

The next day, the first of more than 2,000 remaining triwals, pallets and multi-packs containing allowance material began coming aboard.

Setting of the Watches

SHENANDOAH and her crew experienced many extraordinary “firsts” up to this point. The next first — the order to “Set all Watches throughout the ship” — was issued by the Captain.

The first Watch, Quarter and Station Bill was posted at 07:00, and the first watch-standers mustered in Damage Control Central where general watch training was provided for upper and lower roving patrols just prior to the first rotation. Additional lower deck patrols were then taken on a quick, group tour through lower deck sounding stations. Snipes were provided with the honor of sounding SHENANDOAH for the first time.

Arrival of the Balance II Crew

Balance 1 crew immediately manned their assigned duty stations, and ship’s business got underway. Medical and Dental were busy seeing sick-call patients, while together with other departments, continuing to outfit their spaces. Formal ribbon cutting ceremonies marked the opening of the ship’s stores, barber shops and enlisted dining facility.

By the end of the month, the shipboard computer system was producing its first required reports.

Non-essential personnel were given the task of welcoming the arriving Balance crew while awaiting their first duty station assignment. Acting as escorts, they mustered on the Quarterdeck as buss-loads of new crew arrived.

SHENANDOAH isn’t going anywhere without her Executive Officer.
Commander David Lines reports for duty.

SHENANDOAH’s Executive Officer, CMDR David Lines

Balance II crew arrive at San Diego and begin boarding.

Preparing for SHENANDOAH’s
Maiden Voyage

Light Off Examination

Farewell San Diego

Commanding Officer’s
“Maiden Voyage Address”

Ship and crew departed for the first time together, and with Shenandoah steaming ahead, the ship’s Bo’sun piped “Captain’s Call” over the 1MC intercom.

Captain McNicholas then addressed the crew remarking on their collective achievements to date, upcoming ports-of-call, and remarks of the importance of Shenandoah’s first crew, Plankowner responsibilities, Maiden Voyage heritage, and the Tough Tender’s trials and missions ahead.

The Captain added a postscript announcement to the crew before finishing his official remarks. He reported that he had received a message earlier in the morning from the General Manager of the enlisted club “Scuttlebutt” at Naval Station San Diego. He then passed along the message to the crew: “Shenandoah sailors are invited to never return to the Scuttlebutt; ever again.”

Laughter erupted throughout the ship. The nearly 100 Shenandoah crew who celebrated their last night in San Diego at the Scuttlebutt might have been a bit overzealous. It became a “White Wedding” affair, as only Billy Idol could deliver. The dancing-melee ended abruptly as the Shore Patrol arrived, and then mustered and marched Shenandoah’s crew back to the ship’s brow in formation.

Each lost their Liberty Cards. Getting their Liberty Cards back was another story, for the crew who came to be proudly known as the Shenandoah “Wormdancers.”

The closing of the Captain’s remarks was followed by the first ceremonial playing of the ship’s break-away theme song to the movie “Chariots of Fire” by Vangelis, over the 1MC, as she steamed Southerly.

“Charriots of Fire” ~ Vangellis

Haze Gray and Underway