USS Gladiator Holds Traditional Baptism

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Samantha P. Montenegro | February 27, 2019

MANAMA, Bahrain --

Continuing one of the Navy’s oldest traditions, the Avenger-class minesweeper USS Gladiator (MCM 11) held a baptism on its foc’sle, Feb. 24.

The tradition of baptizing a child in the ship’s bell began with the British navy. Lukas Vaughn T. Copple, son of Mineman 2nd Class Anthony D. Copple and Sasha-Nadine Y. T. Copple, was the second person to be christened aboard Gladiator.

The ceremony began with Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Reardon, a Navy chaplain, explaining the importance of the ceremony to the family and crew.

“Bell Baptisms are one of the oldest Navy traditions,” said Reardon to the crew. “During this ceremony, a blessing will be placed upon this child, family, bell, and ship. The Gladiator will carry the blessings and child’s name along with it as it navigates these waters.”

The crew bowed their hands in prayer during the ceremony, and watched as the priest baptized Lukas Vaughn with holy water and anointed him with oil of Catechumens and sacred Chrism, knowing that soon, the child’s name would be engraved on the ship’s bell, and be a part of the ship’s history forevermore.

The Copple family prides themselves in participating in Navy traditions and said they chose to have their son’s baptism on the ship because the Navy is their family.

“All of our family is in Guam and wasn’t able to make it to the ceremony,” said Sasha-Nadine Y. T. Copple, “It is such a blessing to be able to rely on our Navy family to support us, and be here for us, especially for this momentous occasion.  Thank you to everyone who made this possible.”

During the ceremony, Chief Personnel Specialist Aracely Sanchez, Chief Logistics Specialist Amber Wilson and Lt. Jose Jingco acted as the ceremonial godparents in place of the godparents who were unable to attend. Lukas’ official godparent and paternal uncle Army Staff Sgt. Kristopher Copple assigned to the 2500th Digital Liaison Detachment deployed to Grafenwoehr, Germany, traveled to Bahrain’s waterfront for his nephew’s baptism.

“Family is extremely important to me,” said Kristopher Copple. “I haven’t seen my brother in about a year now, so it’s been wonderful to see my Godson, and to be a part of such a unique ceremony. I’m lucky to be his Godfather and so grateful that I was able to be present for the ceremony.”

After the ceremony concluded, the ship’s commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Wolf addressed the crew.

“Baptizing Lukas Vaughn Copple is a really special occasion for his parents and I was honored that they requested to conduct the ceremony onboard Gladiator,” said Wolf. “Being a forward deployed unit increases separation from our families and support networks but being able to share these special experiences strengthens our Bahrain family.”

The sentiment was echoed by the crew after ceremony as they all congratulated their shipmate and his family and enjoyed refreshments on the weather deck.

“I really just want to express my deepest gratitude to my CO [commanding officer] for allowing me to have this ceremony on board,” said Anthony D. Copple. “My family and I have always loved to partake in Navy traditions when we are able to, and having the opportunity to have my son baptized on my ship is simply amazing. I am so grateful.”

Gladiator is forward deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.

U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse comprises 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.