JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – The U.S. Army Vessels formerly known as USAV Aldie and USAV Chickahominy became USAV Stoney Point and USAV Wilson Wharf during a redesignation ceremony Sept. 8 at the Third Port.
The new names honor American victories. This first was a Revolutionary War victory over the British and the second was a Union victory over the Confederates during the Civil War.
“As the Army drives transformation and modernization of its fleet of vessels,” said Col. Beth Behn, Chief of Transportation. “It also has taken a deliberate step in transforming naming conventions to commemorate significant victories by American Soldiers during the American Revolution and the Civil War.”
They are two of five Army vessels being redesignated. The Army also will redesignate three additional watercraft, USAV Harpers Ferry to USAV Chattanooga, USAV Malvern Hill to USAV Kings Mountain, and USAV Mechanicsville to USAV Vigilant Warrior. These vessels will receive their new shipboards during their On-Condition Cyclic Maintenance, which is a maintenance program that ensures mission readiness of the fleet.
The redesignations are the result of congressional legislation requiring the removal of Confederate names from Department of Defense assets, which includes nine Army vessels.
Retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jermain C. Williamson was the guest speaker for the event. He offered a brief snapshot of the storied history Army watercraft and maritime service have.
“U.S. Army watercraft has a rich and storied tradition of serving our nation's defense,” he said. “The Army commissioned watercraft as early as 1774, a year before Congress authorized the U.S. Navy in 1775.”
Keeping with tradition, an Army sailor broke a bottle of champagne across the bow of each vessel as the new shipboards were unveiled.
“And so here today, as we rename and rededicate these vessels, we are giving them a new identity, a new purpose and a new hope that is directly aligned with honoring America's valor, courage and patriotism,” Williamson said.
Williamson is a native son of Portsmouth, Virginia, he entered active duty in 1991 as an Army Mariner and was accessed into the Warrant Officer cohort in 1999.
Some of his notable assignments include being selected as the first Transportation Corps Warrant Officer assigned to the Warrant Officer Career College Fort Rucker, and served as the 5th Regimental Chief Warrant Officer for the U.S. Army Transportation School & Corps.
Stoney Point is a a rocky peninsula on the west bank of the Hudson River.
It was the only link between two main traveled roads leading from New England to Pennsylvania, so it became vital to the war effort. The British held Stoney Point until the night of July 16, 1779, when “Mad Anthony" Wayne and the American Light Infantry stormed it. His strategy was simple but effective.
The center of the American force fired noisy shots to divert the enemy while two silent columns with empty muskets and fixed bayonets swarmed the fortification. The combat was brutal hand-to-hand fighting, and 123 British Soldiers were killed.
While the fort was ordered to evacuate quickly after the battle by Washington, this key crossing site was used later in the war by units of the Continental Army to cross the Hudson River on their way to victory over the British. The morale of the young American Army was boosted tremendously as word spread about the victory.
The Battle of Wilson's Wharf (also called the Battle of Fort Pocahontas) was a battle in Union General Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign against Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.
On May 24, 1864, Confederate Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry division (about 3,000 men) attacked the Union supply depot at Wilson's Wharf, on the James River in eastern Charles City, Virginia. The division was repulsed by two African American regiments of the United States Colored Troops under the command of Brig. Gen. Edward A. Wild (about 1,800 men), who were in the process of constructing a fortification, which was subsequently named Fort Pocahontas.