The U.S. Navy will officially name its newest roll-on/roll-
off cargo ship in honor of a U.S. Army Medal of Honor winner
during a 10 a.m.(EDT) ceremony, Saturday, May 24, 1997, at
Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Va.
The ship will be named USNS Gilliland (T-AKR 298) in honor
of Cpl. Charles L. Gilliland, USA (1933-1951), a native of
Mountain Home, Ark. Gilliland was assigned to Company I, 7th
Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. Near Tongmang-ni,
Korea, a numerically superior hostile force launched an assault
against his company perimeter, killing
his comrade and leaving Gilliland to face the full force of the
When two enemy soldiers escaped his fire and infiltrated the
sector, he leaped from his foxhole, overtook and killed them.
Gilliland sustained a serious head wound in this daring exploit.
He refused medical attention and volunteered to remain at his
post, holding the enemy at bay when his unit was ordered back to
new defensive positions. He suffered fatal wounds while covering
this withdrawal, and his heroic actions and indomitable devotion
to duty prevented the enemy from completely overrunning his
Gilliland's incredible valor and supreme sacrifice reflect
lasting glory upon himself and are in keeping with the honored
traditions of the military service. For his conspicuous
gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of
duty in action against the enemy, he was posthumously awarded the
Medal of Honor.
Rep. Owen B. Pickett of Va. will deliver the ceremony's
principal address. Serving as ship's sponsor is Mrs. Dale G.
Shelton, sister of the ship's namesake.
Gilliland is the fourth ship to undergo conversion from a
commercial container vessel to a Large Medium Speed Roll On/Roll
Off (LMSR) sealift ship. It will be operated by the U.S.
Navy's Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C. Secretary of
the Navy John H. Dalton views this program as vital to improving
America's strategic sealift capability.
After undergoing conversion to meet Army and Navy
requirements, Gilliland's roll on/roll off design will make it
ideal for transporting helicopters, tanks and other wheeled and
tracked military vehicles. Gilliland is 956 feet in length, has
a beam of 106 feet, displaces approximately 55,000 tons when
fully loaded and has approximately 300,000 square feet of cargo
carrying space. Three low speed diesels, totaling 65,000 shaft
horse power, enable the ship to sustain speeds up to 24 knots.