SINT EUSTATIUS, Netherlands –
Commemorating American history, Sailors aboard the Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) conducted a 13-gun salute and sent Sailors ashore to Sint Eustatius to celebrate Statia Day, Nov. 16.
Statia Day is a national holiday celebrated in Sint Eustatius, which is known locally as Statia. The Caribbean island is a special municipality of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Statia Day honors the “first salute,” when on Nov. 16, 1776, the Continental Navy ship Andrew Doria fired a salute upon entering the harbor in Statia, customary for ships entering a foreign port. A few minutes later, by order of the Dutch governor, guns from the island’s Fort Oranje returned the salute.
This act of recognition acknowledged that the vessel and its flag represented a legitimate nation. It was the first official salute to the United States of America, which had declared its independence a few months earlier, on July 4, 1776.
This year, in coordination with the Statia government, Milwaukee sent seven sailors ashore, led by the Executive Officer Cmdr. Sean Davis, to attend the ceremony at the location of the “first salute” in Fort Oranje. The holiday program included dancers, skits and speeches to commemorate the event. To conclude the ceremony, attendees turned their attention to sea, where Milwaukee, sailing one mile off the coast of Sint Eustatius, conducted the 13-gun salute from the ship’s flight deck to pay tribute to that first salute and to the people of Sint Eustatius.
“It was great for the Sailors of Milwaukee not only to learn about this part of American and Naval History, but actually take part in the ceremony," said Cmdr. Brian Forster, Milwaukee's commanding officer. “From the Sailors who went ashore, the Sailors who participated in the gun salute; the Sailors who navigated close to shore and everyone in between will remember this day for years to come. These are the memories that are made when Sailors go to sea on naval warships."
Statia Day became an official holiday on the island in the 1960s.
Milwaukee is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter-illicit drug trafficking missions in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American region.