MANAMA, Bahrain – Two-hundred forty-one years of naval heritage was recognized Sept. 30, when Sailors and their supporters celebrated the Navy Birthday Ball at the Gulf Hotel Convention Center.
Among the guests at this year’s ball were the Bahraini Minister of State for Defense Affairs, Lt. Gen. Yousif Ahmed Al Jalahma, the Assistant Undersecretary for GCC Affairs, His Excellency, Ambassador Dr. Dhafer Ahmed Alumran, the U.S. Ambassador to Oman, the Honorable Marc J. Sievers, Rear Adm. Shaikh Khalifa bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, commander of Bahrain Naval Forces, Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), and thirteen ambassadors from many nations.
About 600 people attended the event including service members of other branches and nationalities. The event featured a tribute to MIA/POWs, toasts to Bahrain, the United Kingdom, and all the US military services, and a cake-cutting ceremony.
“Over the years, I’ve been to many Navy balls and the work that goes into them never ceases to amaze me,” Donegan said in his remarks. “But there’s something about attending a Navy ball in another country that’s very special. More than just a gathering of Sailors and those who support us, celebrating our Navy heritage abroad really drives home the expression, ‘You can’t surge trust.’”
In brief remarks, Shaikh Al Khalifa, speaking on behalf of the commander-in-chief of the Bahrain Defense Force, Field Marshal Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, recounted the long and enduring partnership between Bahrain and the United States in general and each country’s naval forces in particular. He said both countries share a common desire for security and stability in the Arabian Gulf.
Sievers also lauded partnerships in the region in his remarks.
“The breadth and depth of the U.S. Navy make it a unique organization, which plays an important role in a very dynamic and unpredictable time,” said Sievers. “U.S. Navy leadership has shown recognition of the value of bonds like these because it understands that naval forces are stronger when operating jointly with allies as partners.”
“It was my second Navy Ball and it definitely was an experience to remember,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Kelly, assigned to NAVCENT. “The icing on the cake was having the honor and privilege of singing the National Anthem. Our Navy Ball committee really out did themselves.”
Ross Sawtelle, chairman of this year’s Navy Birthday Ball committee, said the volunteers that worked to make the ball a success, “are the real heroes in my book.”