Passed down through generations of mariners and navies around the world, the annual Blessing of the Fleets tradition will be held for the 21st consecutive year at the United States Navy Memorial on Saturday, 14 April at 1:00pm. Held on the outdoor plaza, the event is free and open to the public and begins immediately following the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. This event is part of the Cherry Blossom Festival.
The centuries-old “Blessing of the Fleets” ceremony is intended to safeguard crews and ships from the danger of the seas through a traditional blessing given by a clergyman at the water’s edge.
The Blessing of the Fleets’ highlight occurs when Sailors from the U.S. Navy’s Ceremonial Guard proceed across the Memorial Plaza’s “Granite Sea” to pour water from the Seven Seas and the Great Lakes into the surrounding fountains, “charging” them to life and ushering in the spring season. Ceremonial music is provided by the U.S. Navy Band.
Following the ceremony, culinary specialists from the White House Mess will prepare and serve Navy bean soup to visitors in the adjacent Naval Heritage Center. Visitors are invited to relax in the Naval Heritage Center’s Burke Theater for a musical performance by the Washington Revels Maritime Voices. Singing “Songs of the Sea and Shore,” the musical group will portray the old life at sea and back home, including the sailors' use of sea chanteys and the joys and hardships of the women ashore.