The Role of a Sponsor

The Secretary of the Navy is charged with designating sponsors for all United States Navy Ships. Sponsors play a unique role for the Navy. As they christen their ships, bestowing upon the vessel a name chosen by the Secretary of the Navy, they become an integral part of that ship’s history. The crew of the ship may change many times over the course of a ship’s life, but the Sponsor remains the same. The Sponsor’s role is an important one. She will participate in as many of the ceremonial milestones in the life of her ship of the ship as possible and her experiences will be memorable.

A ship sponsor, by tradition, is a female civilian who is invited to "sponsor" a vessel, presumably to bestow good luck and divine protection over the seagoing vessel and all that sail aboard. In the United States Navy and the United States Coast Guard the sponsor is technically considered a permanent member of the ship's crew and is expected to give a part of her personality to the ship, as well as advocate for its continued service and well-being. For passenger ships the sponsor is called a Godmother.

The christening ceremony marks the traditional transition of the ship from the new construction phase to its comprehensive tests and trials phase – moving from a mere hull number to a ship with a name and spirit.

Meet the Ship's Sponsor

Diane Donald

Ship's Sponsor Diane Donald

Diane Kerr Donald is a native of McKeesport, Pennsylvania and a proud, lifelong Navy spouse. Joining Navy life when she married her husband, Kirkland Donald, a Submarine Officer at the height of the Cold War, Diane juggled the demands of family and career along with frequent relocations and separations.  Ever busy with work and raising daughter Ashley, she always found time to support Sailors and their families at every duty station. 

Diane was a long serving member of the Submarine Force spouse organizations.  She actively supported, organized and ran charity events and projects to raise funds for the Dolphin Scholarship Foundation and other worthy organizations. In 2003, Diane served as President of Dolphin Scholarship Foundation and continued her passionate leadership of an organization dedicated to funding and awarding college scholarships for children of Submariners.  In following years, she continued as an advocate for Dolphin Scholarship Foundation and the Submarine Force at large, and as a strong supporter for the civilians and Sailors of Naval Reactors. 

As an engaged, compassionate, creative and ever supportive Navy spouse, Diane set a worthy example of selfless service and commitment to the Navy and the Nation for 37 years. 

Ship's Sponsor at 2015 Indiana State Fair
Ship's Sponsor and Crew at Riley Children's Hospital

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