Earlier this year, the Society of Sponsors of the United States Navy launched their first website, with the support of the Naval Historical Foundation. Going forward, the site is being hosted by the Foundation, continuing our long partnership with the Society. Sponsors are named by the Secretary of the Navy, and participate in many of the important milestone events in the lifetime of a Navy ship.Perhaps the most memorable event for a Sponsor is the christening of a ship, when she has the honor of smashing the traditional bottle of champagne against the bow while bestowing the chosen name upon the ship. Sponsors frequently develop a close, lasting relationship with the ship and her crew.
The Society of Sponsors of the United States Navy was founded in 1908 by Miss (Annie) Keith Frazier (Somerville), Sponsor of USS Tennessee and Miss Mary Campbell (Underwood), Sponsor of USS Birmingham with the support of the Secretary of the Navy and President Theodore Roosevelt. The fourteen original members met at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC for their first business meeting, and were guests that evening of the President for the Army-Navy Reception. For many years the Annual Meeting of the Society was held at the Willard Hotel; frequently, a White House Reception or Tea was part of the annual activities. In 1958, Mrs. Somerville penned a booklet, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Society; she died in 1978. In 2008 the Society celebrated its Centennial Year.
The Society has published five volumes of Ships of the United States Navy and Their Sponsors. The first one covers ships christened between 1797-1913; the latest one, 1958-1990, was published by the Naval Institute Press.
In addition to their important duties as the Sponsor of a Navy ship, the women of the Society offer several scholarships, and contribute to numerous charitable organizations. Stay tuned to their website for upcoming news and information on ship christening and keel laying ceremonies. The Foundation looks forward to a long and fruitful partnership with the Society of Sponsors of the United States Navy.