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Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award

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The Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award is presented annually by the U.S. Navy's Chief of Naval Operations to one ship in the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and one in the U.S. Pacific Fleet. A list of winners appears at the end of this article.

Generally the recipient is the ship with the highest score in the fleet's annual competitions for Battle Efficiency Awards, and is therefore often thought of as the fleet's most battle ready ship. This isn't strictly correct, because it has been the policy to rotate eligibility for the award annually among the various type commands (aircraft carriers, submarines, amphibious ships, etc.).

The award includes a small monetary stipend (about $500 in 2004). Commanding officers receiving the award must put the money into the ship's recreation fund, where it can be spent on athletic equipment, prizes for athletic or marksmanship competitions, recreation room furniture, dances, parties, and similar recreational activities.

History

The Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund was established in 1917 by the Tribune Association. It was initiated by a contribution which accompanied the following letter, printed on February 4, 1916:

"To the Editor of the New York Tribune

"Dear Sir:

"I read in your paper every morning a lot about preparedness. My grandpa and my great grandpa were soldiers. If I was a boy I would be a soldier, too, but I am not, so I want to do what I can to help. Mama gives me a dime every week for helping her. I am sending you this week's dime to help build a battleship for Uncle Sam. I know a lot of other kids would give their errand money if you would start a fund. I am 13 years old, and go to Public School No. 9, Brooklyn.

Truly Yours,

MARJORIE STERRETT

I am a true blue American and I want to see Uncle Sam prepared to lick all creation like John Paul Jones did.

P.S.—Please call the battleship America."

The letter was written during the buildup to America's entry into World War I, and it generated a huge response. Former president Theodore Roosevelt responded immediately with a handwritten letter and a dollar contribution; within a few days he met with Marjorie in Manhattan. The Tribune printed the name of every contributor, and newspapers across the country reprinted Marjorie's letter and received additional donations. Grammarians criticized her use of the word "like" as a conjunction, but the rest of the world adored her and made her a teenaged celebrity.

Ultimately 200,000 dimes were collected, each typically in the name of a child or a contributor's yet-to-be born grandchild. The money was offered to the Navy, but Secretary Josephus Daniels at first rejected it, citing legal prohibitions. A law was soon enacted allowing the Navy Department to accept the money, and by early 1917 the $20,000 had been transferred to the government.

Prior to World War II, income from the fund was used to pay prizes annually to turret and gun crews making the highest scores in short-range battle practice, and to submarine crews making the highest scores in torpedo firing. Information about pre-WWII award winners is difficult to find. The USS S-35 won the award in 1934 for the highest merit in battle torpedo practice of submarines.

Since the end of World War II, the Navy has emphasized readiness and fitness of the ship rather than competition between individual departments.

List of Post-WWII Winners

Year Atlantic Fleet Winner Pacific Fleet Winner
2004 USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)
2003 USS Scout (MCM-8) USS Boxer (LHD-4)
2002 USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55) USS Milius (DDG-69)
2001 USS Pennsylvania (SSBN-735) (G) USS Santa Fe (SSN-763)
2000 USS Grapple (ARS-53) USS Salvor (ARS-52)
1999 USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) USS Constellation (CV-64)
1998 USS Wasp (LHD-1) USS Belleau Wood (LHA-3)
1997 USS Normandy (CG-60) USS Cowpens (CG-63)
1996 USS Boston (SSN-703) USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN-730)
1995 USS Edenton (ATS-1) USS Salvor (ARS-52)
1994 USS George Washington (CVN-73) USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63)
1993 USS Guam (LPH-9) USS Comstock LSD-45
1992 USS Yorktown (CG-48) USS Princeton (CG-59)
1991 USS Oklahoma City (SSN-723) USS Florida (SSBN-728)
1990 USS Yosemite (AD-19) USS Samuel Gompers (AD-37)
1989 USS Forrestal (CV-59) USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
1988 USS Inflict (MSO-456) USS Duluth (LPD-6)
1987 USS Kidd (DDG-993) USS Fox (CG-33)
1986 USS Finback (SSN-670) USS Plunger (SSN-595)
1985 USS Platte (AO-186) USS Roanoke (AOR-7)
1984 USS Independence (CV-62) USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63)
1983 USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) USS Duluth (LPD-6)
1982 USS King (DDG-41) USS Bainbridge (CGN-25)
1981 USS Hammerhead (SSN-663) USS Los Angeles (SSN-688)
1980 USS San Diego (AFS-6) USS White Plains (AFS-4)
1979 USS John F. Kennedy (CVA-67) USS Midway (CV-41)
1978 USS Manitowoc (LST-1180) Unknown. We need this information.
1977 USS Wainwright (CG-28) USS Roark (FF-105)
1976 USS Flying Fish (SSN-673) USS Patrick Henry (SSBN-599)
1975 USS Kalamazoo (AOR-6) USS Molala (ATF-106)
1974 USS John F. Kennedy (CVA-67) USS Oriskany (CVA-34)
1973 USS Inchon (LPH-12) USS Durham (LKA-114)
1972 USS Dupont (DD-941) USS Waddell (DDG-24)
1971 USS Dash (MSO-428) USS Energy (MSO-436)
1970 USS Lapon (SSN-661) USS Catfish (SS-339)
1969 USS Sylvania (AFS-2) USS Cree (ATF-84)
1968 USS Intrepid (CVS-11) USS Coral Sea (CVA-43)
1967 USS Shadwell (LSD-15) USS St. Francis River (LSMR-525)
1966 USS Harry E. Yarnell (CG-17) USS John R. Craig (DD-885)
1965 USS Meadowlark (MSC-196) USS Persistent (MSO-491)
1964 USS Shark (SSN-591) USS Scamp (SSN-588)
1963 Unknown. We need this information. USS Current (ARS-22)
1962 USS Sargo (SSN-583) Unknown. We need this information.
1961 USS Blandy (DD-943) USS Somers (DD-947)
1960 Unknown. We need this information. Unknown. We need this information.
1959 USS Randolph (CVS-15) USS Hornet CVS-12
1958 USS Rankin (AKA-103) USS Mahoning County (LST-914)
1950 USS Sea Robin (SS-407) USS Charr (SS-328)
1949 USS Fiske (DD-842) USS Newman K. Perry (DD-883)
1948 USS Providence (CL-82) USS Helena (CA-75)

1948 was the first post-World War II year in which awards were made. Awards were discontinued in 1951 due to the Korean War, and were not reinstated until 1958.

References

  • OPNAVINST 3590.11E
  • New York Tribune, February 4-13, 1916
  • New York Times, February 11, 1916
  • Wall Street Journal, January 13, 1917