Artist records 200 years of ship’s history

Published 11:25 pm Monday, April 6, 2009

When the USS Truxtun, a DDG 103 guided missile destroyer built by Northrop Grumman in Pascagoula, is commissioned later this month, it will sail adorned with a mural painted by Pascagoula artist Sandra Eisler.

The Truxtun, named after Commodore Thomas Truxtun (1755-1822), carries the name of the man whose services George Washington once equated to that of an entire regiment.

Commodore Truxtun was one of the first six captains appointed when the U.S. Navy was established, according to Cmdr. Timothy Weber, the USS Truxtun’s first commanding officer.

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“The mural is on the messdecks, where the entire crew gathers daily,” Weber said. “The representation further builds upon (the) naval tradition of honoring those who have gone before us. Ms. Eisler’s mural captures (Commodore Truxtun’s) historical lineage,” he said.

Eisler’s mural took 35 days to complete and depicts the five previous ships bearing the commodore’s name in spectral seascape punctuated with Truxtun’s portrait set against the American flag.

“It was an honor and a privilege to paint this mural,” Eisler said. “It was very humbling to be a part of this magnificent ship…to portray the long lineage of Commodore Truxtun and his contribution to naval history.”

The mural was a concerted effort by Eisler, her sister Angela and George and Jackson counties artist Steven Butler, she said. “Angela is my researcher and does a great job in finding all the details, both photographic and factual,” Eisler said. “Believe me, when you are going back 200 years, it is not an easy task.”

She said Butler, who she called in for aid with the mural’s layout, was also caught up in the “feeling of history,” and lent a bit of humor to the process.

“The Navy personnel had a good laugh when Steven painted Spiderman surfing alongside the ship,” she said, though the “Surfin’ Spidey” didn’t make the mural’s final cut.

The USS Truxtun was delivered to the Navy last October, 10 weeks earlier than scheduled, Northrop Grumman says. The sixth ship to carry Commodore Truxtun’s name, it is scheduled to be commissioned April 25 at the Naval Weapons Station in Goose Creek, S.C., according to the Charleston Council of the Navy League Web site.

“It is with great hope that the constant reminder of those ship’s achievements will inspire the sailors of the USS Truxtun to make our defining page in history,” Weber said.