Stephen Rutkowski helped commission USS Bainbridge 4.29.09

Written by David Green.

A story in last week’s Observer highlighted a Fayette connection to the USS Bainbridge, the U.S. Navy destroyer involved in patrolling for pirates near Somalia. Melina Gardner of Fayette is a crew member.

There’s also a Morenci connection, although a step removed from the current status of the Bainbridge.

Small world, says Navy officer Stephen Rutkowski of Morenci.

“I was a member of the commissioning crew,” he said. “I was on the ship from June 2004 through June 2007.”

The commissioning crew, he explained, is responsible for putting the ship into service after its construction. Rutkowski describes the effort as massive test of management skills.

“We start from scratch to make sure all the pieces for the ship operate and function,” he said. “Then we take her out of the shipyard and work out the bugs.”

The Bainbridge was commissioned in Florida for a couple months after leaving Bath, Maine, where it was built. After that comes the job of training the crew to operate the many facets of the guided missile destroyer that’s powered by gas turbine engines.

“This is why most crew members remain for several years after commissioning. Those crew members that are attached to the ship at the time of commission are called ‘plank owners’. There are still several plank owners onboard today.”

Rutkowski said he’s been back on board several times since the commissioning and is still in contact with the ship.

He added that area resident Joe Terrell was in Florida during the commissioning and went onboard for a three-hour tour. He later returned for the ceremony when the ship went into service.

  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016