VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (April 15, 2015) – A talented Navy Chief Petty Officer gestured with bearing and poise, expressing happiness and great pride, as he turned over a finely-fitted ship’s bell stand to Expeditionary Warfare Training Group, Atlantic, (EWTGLANT) during a ceremony on the unit’s quarterdeck, April 15, at Joint Expeditionary Base (JEB) Little Creek-Fort Story.
Chief Operations Specialist (SW/AW) Edward L. Davis painstakingly composited and hewed wood gathered from three Navy ships and a training simulator to create a beautiful and functional stand that represented hundreds of years of Navy operations, training and traditions.
The stand will house the command’s ships bell, which is on loan from the Navy Heritage Command.
“This was something that I knew that I could do,” said Davis, “taking something old and turning it into something new and appreciated for years to come.”
When Marine Col. Robert D. Curtis, EWTGLANT commanding officer, reported to the command nearly two years ago, he noticed the command’s bell was mounted outdoors and inquired about purchasing a stand so it could be relocated to the quarterdeck. Davis overheard the conversation, and, in keeping with the traditional leadership of a chief petty officer, he quickly volunteered to take-over the project.
Instead of simply buying a bell stand, Davis planned and constructed a truly remarkable, one of a kind stand. He obtained the mahogany wood that formed the internal frame of the structure of the stand from the Amphibious Warfare Demonstrator (AWD), which served the command as a training simulator from its commissioning in 1955 through its decommissioning in 2013. The teak planking covering the frame came from the battleship USS North Carolina (BB 55), commissioned in April, 1941 and decommissioned in June, 1947. The cedar center section of the upward angled support arms came from the dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46), commissioned November, 1990 and still in service. The center cross beam tying into the upward angle supports and directly holding the bell was constructed from white oak wood from the USS Constitution, launched October, 1797, and still serving, making it the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.
“There was an idea about what wood could be used,” said Davis. “The thought of using new wood would not have been beneficial to the project. Calling various battleships on the east coast, other “L” class ships and the USS Constitution was a bit difficult. But in the end, the commands came through.”
For Davis, woodworking has been an enjoyable hobby and skill he initially developed 30 years ago while involved in Boy Scouts and while working with his father.
“I’m proud of this project, and I see it as a legacy to be enjoyed by the unit after I retire,” said Davis, who will culminate 24 years of active service.
Davis spent more than 350 man-hours to complete the project, which will serve the Sailors, Marines and civilians of EWTGLANT for many years to come.
By Frank Sanders, Expeditionary Warfare Training Group, Atlantic (EWTGLANT) Public Affairs