Guided-Missile Destroyer Ralph Johnson to be Commissioned
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy will commission its newest guided-missile destroyer, the future USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), during a March 24 ceremony at Columbus Street Pier in Charleston, South Carolina, the Defense Department announced.
The ship honors Marine Corps Pfc. Ralph Henry Johnson, who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity” during the Vietnam War. On March 5, 1968, in an observation post overlooking the Quan Duc Valley, Johnson used his body to shield fellow Marines from a grenade, absorbing the blast and dying instantly. The Charleston native had only been in Vietnam for two months when he was killed at the age of 19.
Gen. Robert B. Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Georgeann McRaven, wife of retired Adm. Bill McRaven, serves as the ship’s sponsor. In a time-honored Navy tradition, she will give the order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”
“The future USS Ralph Johnson will become one of the most capable weapons in our nation’s arsenal,” said Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer. “It will serve for decades to come as a fitting tribute to the heroic actions of Pfc. Ralph Johnson who, in the face of certain death, sacrificed his own life to save the life of a fellow Marine.”
Ralph Johnson, the 65th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer to be commissioned, will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. Ralph Johnson will be capable of engaging in air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and will contain a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare, including Integrated Air and Missile Defense capabilities.
The ceremony can be viewed on the Navy Live blog at http://navylive.dodlive.mil