Nov. 16 (UPI) — The Navy accepted delivery of the future USS Ralph Johnson DDG-214, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, from ship building contractor Huntington Ingalls Industries in a ceremony on Wednesday in Charleston, S.C.
“The namesake of this ship is a true American patriot who sacrificed his life for the safety of his fellow Marines and his country,” Capt. Casey Moton, DDG-51 class program manager, said in a press release. “We’re looking forward to commissioning a ship that will not only honor the legacy of one of our finest Marines but also provide today’s Sailors and Marines with one of our most capable warfighting assets.”
Just before President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration in January, then Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced Charleston, S.C., as the commissioning site for the future USS Ralph Johnson.
While on a reconnaissance mission for an operation planned in the Quang Duc Valley on March 5, 1968, during the Vietnam War, 19-year-old Charleston native Marine Pfc. Ralph H. Johnson saved the life of Marine 1st Lt. Clebe McClary, his platoon commander, and other Marines by jumping on a grenade that landed in his fighting hole after his 15-man squad was left in the triple canopy jungles, waiting for their helicopter extraction.
“They were attacked by a platoon-size hostile force employing automatic weapons, satchel charges and hand grenades,” Johnson’s Medal of Honor citation reads. “Suddenly, a hand grenade landed in the three-man fighting hole occupied by Private First Class Johnson and two fellow Marines. Realizing the inherent danger to his comrades, he shouted a warning and unhesitatingly hurled himself upon the explosive device. When the grenade exploded, Private First Class Johnson absorbed the tremendous impact of the blast and was killed instantly.”
Work on the 64th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer began four years ago at the Huntington Ingalls Industries Pascagoula shipyard. The Navy says the ship is equipped with the latest computing power and integrated air and missile defense systems.
In September, the USS Ralph Johnson successfully completed its ship’s systems and readiness during a series of at sea deployments and in-port trial testing for the U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey.
Huntington is currently producing four other destroyers, and is under contract to produce the future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), which the Navy says will be the first Flight III ship — an Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer built around an advanced air search radar for ballistic missile defense missions.