Washington, DC - The United States Navy Memorial hosted the 25th annual Blessing of the Fleet ceremony at the Navy Memorial in Washington Saturday.
The ceremony followed the Washington, D.C., annual Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and featured the United States Marine Corps Band and Ceremonial Guard.
Chaplain of the Marine Corps and Deputy Chief of Navy Chaplains, Rear Adm. Brent W. Scott, gave the invocation and blessing to the centuries-old tradition.
"The Blessing of the Fleets began really when mariners gone to sea, to include fisherman, so that any time a flotilla of ships or boats would go out to sea, to encounter the perils of the sea in the dangers of the water, there would always be a blessing of the boat and a blessing of the crew," said Scott.
The Blessing of the Fleets ritual is intended to safeguard crews and ships from the danger of the seas.
During the Navy Memorial's ceremony, Sailors from the U.S. Navy's Ceremonial Guard and Marines from the U.S. Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. poured water from the Seven Seas and Great Lakes into surrounding fountains, "charging" them to life and ushering in the spring season.
"Today we blessed the fleet in the sense of the Marine Corps and the Navy team whose spend their life operating at sea, blessing them and the mission that they have," said Scott.
For Scott, the ceremony was an opportunity to show the public the value of the Marine Corps and the Navy.
"I think so often people in our society don't envision the hardships, and the dangers and the perils of a Navy that goes to sea," said Scott. "This is a great place where the public comes and see what this event is and I think it reminds the people of how important our Marine Corps and Navy team are."
Following the ceremony, guests were invited to enjoy a bowl of Navy bean soup served by Navy culinary specialists from the White House Mess, a free concert of traditional maritime music by the Washington Revel's Maritime Voices in the Burke Theater as well as the unveiling of the Memorial's Year of the Marine Corps exhibit.
The new exhibit honors the Marine Corps' proud history as well as its current mission and goals for the future. The exhibit features rare historical artifacts and artwork and will be on view until March 2017.