Monday, May 9, 2011

Mast Stepping Ceremony Michael Murphy-DDG112 - May 6, 2011

Placing a coin at the step, or base, of the mast of a newly constructed ship is a custom still retained as wooden ships have become steel. This tradition during ship building had its origin with the ancient Greeks and Romans. As legend has it upon dying, it was customary to place coins in the mouths of the dead in the belief that this would ensure payment to Charon for ferry passage across the River Styx and into the afterlife. Because of this, when ships were sent off to battle, enough money was placed in the bottom of the mast to ensure the entire crew had enough money to pay Charon for passage in the event they did not return. As a navy, being steeped in customs and traditions the ritual has survived. The coins are placed in the mast today but now represent and symbolize certain aspects of the ship's birth and a gesture of safe passage for the crew.

The Michael Murphy's mast box contains the following items:
  • Three United States Quarters to represent:
               State of New York (2001) LT Murphy's home state
               State of California (2005) Year of Operation Red Wings
               State of Washington (2007) Year LT Michael Murphy earned the Medal of Honor
  • One United States Dime (2000) to represent the year LT Murphy was commissioned as a United States Naval Officer.
  • One United States Nickle (2002) to represent the year that LT Muprhy attained his SEAL qualification.
  • Twenty United States Pennies to represent the birth year of each of the members of Operation Red Wings.
  • One United States Penny to represent the birth year of Ms. Maureen Murphy, LT Murphy's mother
  • One United States Penny to represent the birth year of Mr. Daniel Murphy, LT Murphy's father.
The coin denominations sum is 112 and represents the ship's hull number. Additionally there are a nuymber of commerative coins and memorabelia in the Mast Stepping box.

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