So what's a commissioning? #27forPride2

Whether you’re an armchair adventurer or a captain with decades of seafaring experience, there’s one thing that’s universally acknowledged: Sailing vessels are breathtakingly pretty. (Especially Pride of Baltimore II.)

But Pride II is more than just a photo op. In addition to the gorgeous images we’ve been sharing from our archives, we wanted to use Pride II’s anniversary as an opportunity to talk shop. We rarely get the chance to discuss what happens when a ship is launched and how it differs from a ship’s commissioning, for instance, but the nuances are actually quite fascinating.

A ship’s commissioning, according to Wikipedia, “is the act or ceremony of placing a ship in active service.” Essentially, this is the day where the appointed officials say, “Hey, go be a boat.”

When Pride II was commissioned, among the thousands in the crowd were important officials, including a clergyman and the commander of the USS Baltimore. Captain Miles was instructed by the commander to “assume command of the Pride of Baltimore II and place in her commission,” to which Captain Miles responded, “Aye, aye, sir. I am in command. Pride of Baltimore II is now in commission.” Up went the flags and off she sailed, the first part of her maiden voyage ending in Bermuda.

When a vessel is commissioned, it already has a name and is already in the water — this happens at the launch. The launch is the transferring of a vessel to the water. (Pride II was launched on April 30, 1988 after 18 months of construction.) Also at the launch, a bottle of champagne may be broken over the bow as the ship’s name is announced aloud. (Helen Delich Bentley had this honor for Pride II.)

In the time between launch and commissioning, there are sea trials, or test drives for a boat. These trails allow the captain and crew to test the design of the ship, as well as the equipment. Not to mention, sailing a traditionally rigged vessel such as Pride II is very different than sailing a more modernly equipped vessel.

Commissioning is the vessel’s last stop on the road to her maiden voyage. The launch may be the bigger celebration, but the commissioning is when the party really starts.

Twenty-Seven Years of Sailing With Pride #27forPride2

Pride of Baltimore II was commissioned 27 years ago today! An excerpt from Greg Pease’s Sailing with Pride:


Pride of Baltimore II was officially commissioned on Sunday, October 23, 1988 in Fells Point, Baltimore. Hundreds crowded the docks to watch as Pride II was given orders to sail forth on her maiden voyage.

Following dedications by city and state officials and the blessing of the ship by Reverend William N. McKeachie, Commander Patrick Dunne, Captain of the USS Baltimore, gave Captain Jan Miles his commissioning orders. “Captain Miles, assume command of the Pride of Baltimore II and place her in commission,” to which Miles answered, “Aye, aye, sir. I am in command. Pride of Baltimore II is now in commission.” Miles then turned to his crew and order the raising of the flag. Two crew members hoisted a replica of the fifteen-star, fifteen stripe U.S. flag which flew over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. (It was the sight of this flag which inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”) The flags of Maryland and Baltimore and a Pride of Baltimore II pennant were quickly run up, joining the U.S. flag. As Pride II pulled away from the dock, firing her cannons in salute, the Navy band struck up “Anchors Aweigh.”

With an escort of three large schooners and a flotilla of smaller boats, Pride of Baltimore II took her first official tour of the Inner Harbor. It was a crisp, sunny day, and thousands lined the water’s edge to wave farewell. After eighteen months, Pride II was on her way, to not only carry on the mission of her predecessor, but to make her own history as Maryland’s ambassador to the world. –S.S.


THE SUN – OCTOBER 24, 1988

Pride of Baltimore featured in the Baltimore Sun on October 24, 1988

Tomorrow marks the 27th anniversary of Pride II's commissioning #27forPride2

Twenty-seven years ago tomorrow, Pride of Baltimore II was commissioned. Pride II was commissioned as a sailing memorial to her immediate predecessor, the original Pride of Baltimore, which was tragically sunk by a white squall off Puerto Rico in 1986, taking her captain and three crew members down with her.

It was a tremendous outpouring of support from the people of Maryland that allowed Pride II to be built, a “larger and sturdier ship whose role was to promote Maryland’s economic interests.”

Thousands of people gathered for the occasion, capping off a week’s worth of events, including a 60-mile bicycle trip through 8 Maryland counties. In honor of Pride II‘s commissioning, we will be posting related newspaper clippings from this time in 1988 as well as fun, informative articles. So travel back into history with us through the end of the month as we revisit the momentous occasion! ‪#‎27forPride2‬ ‪#‎Pride2Anniversary‬ ‪#‎TallShip‬.

Pride II‘s Captain and her first crew are profiled here by the Baltimore Sun: “I see this vessel going far afield, back to Europe, back to Japan, around the world,” says Captain Jan Miles, “When we go abroad, we’ll wind up being an ambassador for the USA.” Read the article from our archives here:


THE SUN – OCTOBER 18, 1988

Pride of Baltimore Article - The Sun - October 18 1988 - Page 1Pride of Baltimore Article - The Sun - October 18 1988 - Page 2