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Photos: Girl’s baptism held aboard the USS Ashland on the Navy’s birthday

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Posted at 5:20 PM, Oct 16, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-16 17:24:22-04

Norfolk, Va. – This year, Oct. 13 not only marked the Navy’s 237th birthday, but also signified a spiritual milestone in a young girl’s life.

Just shy of her first birthday, Grace Caroline Sims, daughter of Lt. Hayley Sims and Lt. Brandon Sims, was baptized aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland.

Lt. Brandon Sims currently serves as Ashland’s operations and combat systems officer and Lt. Hayley Sims serves as the deputy public affairs officer at Chief of Naval Personnel Command in Washington, D.C.

A baptism aboard Navy ships is a long-standing tradition that began on foreign port visits and for children who were born at sea.

“Naval Service is distinct from professions in the civilian world,” said Brandon Sims. “Traditions like baptism in the ship’s bell highlight how much a naval officer’s professional life is intertwined with personal life. I am proud to see my daughter be a part of our Navy’s Heritage.”

“The Navy is such a big part of our lives, so to be able to tie it into this spiritual milestone for our daughter is very special for our whole family,” said Hayley Sims.

Lt. John E. Kelly, Staff Chaplain at Naval Air Station Oceana Dam Neck Annex Chapel performed the baptism. 

During Kelly’s 25-years as a priest he has conducted 300 baptisms; it wasn’t until Grace that he performed one not only on the Ashland for the first time, but on the Navy’s birthday as well. 

As a time honored tradition, once a child is baptized in the ship’s bell, the child’s name is engraved inside the bell; forever making them part of the ship’s history.