Christening of the Daniel Inouye (DDG 118)

On May 14, 2018, in Bath, Maine, at the General Dynamics Bath Works shipyard, a special ceremony was held for the Laying of the Keel for the USS Daniel Inouye, a DDG 51 Class Destroyer.  The laying of the keel is an age-old tradition.  Irene Inouye as the ship’s sponsor, etched her initials to authenticate the keel plate, symbolizing the joining of the ship’s components.

The USS Daniel Inouye will be equipped with an Aegis Baseline 9 Combat System, including an integrated air and missile defense capability.  It will be an asset in global maritime security, as well as possess anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities.   Senator placed a high priority on readiness and making sure that our men and women of the armed forces had what they needed to train, fight and return home safely to their families.   He is definitely smiling down on us, at the thought that his name would be carried forward on as a sophisticated defender and protector of our nation.

On June 21-22, 2019 the DKI ohana gathered in Bath, Maine for the christening of the Navy Destroyer Daniel Inouye (DDG 118), which will arrive in its homeport of Pearl Harbor in early 2021 under the leadership of Commanding Officer CDR DonAnn Gilmore, Master Chief Thomas Mace, and more than 300 sailors. We are honored that the USS Daniel Inouye’s first commander will be a woman.

Just getting to Maine was a monumental task! We deiced that a plastic lei on the Daniel Inouye DDG 188 just would not do, so we went to work. Thanks to support from Brion Chang and his team, 8 segments — feet each, a massive ti-leaf lei (tied to a 1-inch diameter rope), which when assembled stretched 75 feet – a double strand lei. Watch the video below to see the lei being assembled at the shipyard upon our arrival.  The shipyard staff was eager to learn how to build the lei, and really enjoyed seeing the beautiful flowers. In addition, we brought 4 dozen lei for dignitaries, together with Big Island Candies, Kauai’s special salt and a host of omiyage for special guests.

A sincere mahalo to all the hearts and hands that came together to make this event possible! The General Dynamics and Navy crews truly went above and beyond to prepare and execute every detail for the weekend. Hawaiian Airlines aided in shipping hundreds of pounds of lei and omiyage to the East Coast, Big Island Candies and our friends on Kauai made sure the aloha spirit was alive and well throughout the festivities. It truly took a village to christen a U.S.S. Destroyer – Hawaiian style.

Lei Assembly

Christening Ceremony

Christening Ceremony Photos

Mast Stepping

On the day before the christening, family, friends, former staff and military leaders came together to participate in the traditional Mast Stepping Ceremony.

The mast stepping ceremony has been a tradition in shipbuilding for centuries. In the past, the placement of the mast into the hull, known as “stepping the mast”, signified the moment when a “shell” truly became a ship. Today, the mast stepping ceremony involves placing or welding coins and other significant objects into the mast step of a ship, and is seen as a traditional moment in a ship’ construction which is thought to bring good luck. It is essentially a “Time Capsule” onboard the ship. The practice of placing coins at the step, or base, of the mast during ship construction originated with the ancient Greeks and Romans. The legend states that these coins could be used by the crew, if lost at sea, as payment for safe passage into the afterlife. This old tradition has survived the test of time. Today, coins and other items are placed in the mast of Navy ships to honor the heritage of the ship, her sponsor, and her namesake. The contents of the Mast Stepping Box are sealed until the ship is decommissioned.

Special items linked to Senator Inouye were placed in a box which was welding into the mast of the ship. Charlie Houy shared wonderful stories as he placed the Senator’s Good Conduct medal into the box. Read Charlie’s full speech at the link below.

Ken Inouye did a heartfelt job placing his grandmother’s brooch and family bible.  Representatives from the Navy, the Senator’s family, former staff, and friends placed the items in the box during a moving ceremony.  We have 2 videos below from this event – the first one is the items that were placed in the box; and the 2nd one shows a some of Senator’s personal history.

Read the speech given by Charlie Houy

Mast Stepping Ceremony USS Inouye

Bath, Maine, June 21, 2019

Good morning.  On behalf of the Inouye family we are presenting the Senator’s Good Conduct Medal for this mast stepping ceremony.  Now that might seem an odd choice from a war hero whose military medals include a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Service Cross which was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor, and a statesman who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But remembering the man for whom I worked for more than two decades, it actually makes perfect sense.

Senator Inouye always liked to tell stories, so let me offer one of his to explain.

In 1987, Dan Inouye was chosen to chair a Senate committee to investigate the Iran-Contra scandal.  In what might ring true today, the White House was accused of circumventing the law, usurping Congress’s power of the purse by supplying arms to a right wing militia in Central America.

Outrage and political sniping were rampant in the country.  At the outset, Democrat Chairman Inouye made Republican Senator Warren Rudman, his Vice Chairman.  This investigation would be bipartisan.

Inouye told Rudman that the Republican President, Ronald Reagan, would not be called upon to testify like some common criminal. He said, the memories of President Nixon resigning in disgrace were still too fresh in America’s consciousness. It would be bad for the country to treat the office of the President without complete respect.

Now unlike Inouye, who was of calm demeanor, Warren Rudman, from the granite state of New Hampshire, was feisty, even pugilistic.  According to Senator Inouye, hauling up the President was exactly what Rudman had in mind.  No, not during Inouye’s tenure.

Under Chairman Inouye, the investigation would search for facts and not become a political sideshow.  To most outside observers, both supporters and critics, that’s exactly what happened.

As the investigation was nearing an end, a military officer, who was implicated in the scandal, was scheduled to testify in what was expected to be “Must See TV.”

The day before this testimony, Rudman told Inouye that he should wear his Distinguished Service Cross Medal to the hearing.  Senator Inouye was perplexed.  Now Inouye liked to say that, like he, Rudman was infantry, so he knew he wouldn’t B.S. him.

Senator Rudman, a veteran of the Korean War, explained that millions of active duty military and veterans would be watching.  They’d see a Marine in uniform covered with military ribbons being grilled by politicians.  The Marine would get the benefit of the doubt.  But if Inouye wore his Distinguished Service Cross, Rudman said, they would all know who the true military hero was.

Inouye told him the only medal he ever wore was his Good Conduct Medal.  He explained that yes, he had a Purple Heart, but he didn’t earn it.  Someone shot him; he received a Purple Heart.  And as for the medals he got for his heroic actions including attacking a German machine gun nest single-handedly, well, he said the only way I can explain that is temporary insanity, not valor.  But the Good Conduct Medal, that I earned as an 18 year old surrounded by temptation.  My father told me, when I enlisted, not to dishonor my family.  So, I was on my best behavior.

Ultimately Rudman prevailed and Senator Inouye wore his Distinguished Service Cross to the hearing.  And every military man and woman in America recognized the hero.

As I reflected on the decision to offer the Good Conduct Medal, I concluded nothing would be more appropriate.  In the story I just relayed, like dozens of others he shared, Senator Inouye did what he thought was right for the good of the country.

Dan Inouye was a man who conducted himself appropriately both in war and in peace.  Heroism and statesmanship.  In his political life he crossed party lines frequently to support ideas that he believed in, even when unpopular.  In private, his strong sense of duty mirrored that public persona.  Good conduct indeed.

So, it’s with pride that I stand here today on behalf of his family and offer this medal to be included in the mast box from a man who was always of good conduct.

May god bless the USS Inouye and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

Thank you.

Mast stepping items

Senator Inouye’s History


Senator Inouye’s family worked very closely with the U.S. Navy in designing the ship’s crest.  Please be sure to read the details in the “Symbolism” section below.  The crest includes some of the proudest moments of Senator’s life.

Shield. Celeste, a chief crested per fess of the first and Or, a pile reversed Azure (Dark Blue), superimposed at tip with a bezant charged with an annulet of eighteen triangles Vert, at base two sugar cane plants saltirewise Proper; all within a diminished border Gules.

Crest. From a wreath of the colors Or and Celeste, two lightning bolts arched chevronwise Celeste (Bluebird), surmounted by an eagle displayed holding in dexter claw a laurel branch, in sinister claw thirteen arrows, bearing the Coat of Arms of the United States, in chief a Medal of Honor neck pad, all Proper.

Supporters. On either side of the shield, a torch palewise Argent (Silver Gray), enflamed Gules.

Motto. A scroll Azure (Flag Blue), doubled Or, with the inscription “GO FOR BROKE” of the last.



Shield.  Blue and gold are traditional colors associated with the U.S. Navy.  The dark blue pile reversed is a stylized characterization of Diamond Head, Hawaii’s most recognized monument and former home to the first United States military reservation in Hawaii, Fort Ruger.  The landmark is located in Honolulu, the birthplace of Daniel Inouye as well as where he conducted much of his life’s work.  Diamond Head sits on the coast of the island of Oahu, the ocean represented here by the waves.  Present on the Honolulu flag and Hawaii state seal, the sun is emblematic of a new day and, therefore, the birth of a new state.  Forming the sun, the green triangles are the Hawaiian symbol for `Aina or land. They reflect Senator Inouye’s commitment to indigenous peoples, specifically his service as Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and his work which led to the inauguration of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.  The green coloring of the triangles is a reference to Inouye’s service in the U.S. Army.  The two sugar cane plants at base highlight the fact that Senator Inouye’s father and grandparents came to the United States as laborers in the sugar cane fields.  This further reflects the gratitude Inouye often expressed for living in a democracy with boundless opportunities. The red border suggests Inouye’s Japanese ancestry.

Crest.  The wreath adopts the first named metal and color from the shield and blazon. The eagle is adapted from the U.S. Senate seal and is indicative of Inouye’s tenure as a Senator where he rose to become President Pro Tem and third in succession to the presidency.  He was elected to the Senate in 1962 where he served for 49 accomplished years until his death in 2012.  Senator Inouye was a proud American continually focused on making the United States a better place.  The lightning bolts are expressive of the speed and sophistication of the warship.  Their arched position is an allusion to the flanking maneuver Inouye, while a Second Lieutenant, led his platoon in during the Assault on Colle Musatello in Italy in 1945.  Inouye’s exceptional leadership, valor and devotion to duty during this assault resulted in his being awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.  In 2000, his award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor after an official review found that many Japanese-American servicemen had been denied proper recognition of their bravery due to their race.  The neck pad in chief represents the Medal of Honor awarded to Senator Inouye.  It is placed higher than everything else within the coat of arms, denoting it as the nation’s highest honor for valor in combat.

Supporters.  The torches represent guidance and leadership through strength and are derived from the 442nd Infantry Regiment insignia where Inouye was a member during World War II.  At the base of each torch, a silver coin is attached, referencing the two silver dollars Inouye kept as good luck charms in his breast pocket during his service with the Regiment.  During an attack in a battle to relieve the Lost Battalion in 1944, the silver dollars deflected a bullet from hitting his heart, thereby saving his life.

Seal.  The coat of arms as blazoned in full color on a white oblong disc within a dark blue designation band, edged with a gold roped border and bearing the name “USS DANIEL INOUYE” at the top and “DDG 118” at the base.