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Release No: 343-97
June 27, 1997


The guided missile destroyer Ross (DDG 71) will be commissioned during an 8:30 p.m. ceremony Saturday, June 28, 1997, in Galveston, Texas.

The new destroyer is named to honor the heroic naval service of Capt. Donald K. Ross, of Beverly, Kan., during World War II. During the December 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Ross, then a junior warrant officer and machinist serving onboard the battleship USS Nevada (BB 36), disregarding his own life, ordered all other crewmen out of the engine room after several bomb hits to the USS Nevada's engineering spaces. He remained alone to operate the ship's machinery in the steam and smoke-filled compartment.

This selfless act made it possible for USS Nevada to get underway despite the Japanese air attack. Ross was presented the Medal of Honor by Admiral Chester Nimitz in April 1942, and was commissioned ensign in June 1942.

Later in the war, Ross also participated in the landings at Normandy and southern France. After 27 years of active duty aboard every type of surface ship then afloat, he retired as a captain in July 1956. Ross died in 1992 in Port Orchard, Wash.

John H. Dalton, secretary of the Navy, is the principal speaker for the commissioning. Mrs. Helen Lou Ross, widow of the ship's namesake, is the ship's sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition, Mrs. Ross will give the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"

  • Ross is the 21st of 35 Arleigh Burke class destroyers currently authorized by
  • Congress. Aegis destroyers are equipped to conduct a variety of missions, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection, in support of national military strategy. Ross will operate with aircraft carrier battle groups in high-threat environments, and will also provide essential escort capabilities to Navy and Marine Corps amphibious forces, combat logistics ships and convoys.

  • These multi-mission ships are equipped with the Navy's modern Aegis combat weapons system which combines space-age communication, radar and weapons technologies in a single platform for unlimited flexibility while operating "Forward...From the Sea." These new
  • destroyers will replace older, less-capable ships that are being taken out of service as the Navy reduces spending while maintaining quality as part of its overall plan to recapitalize the fleet.
  • Ross will carry Standard surface-to-air missiles and Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from forward and aft vertical launching systems; two fully-automated, radar-controlled Phalanx close-in weapons systems; Harpoon anti-ship missiles; one five-inch gun; and electronic warfare systems.

Ross will join the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, with Cmdr. Jeffrey R. Ginnow, U.S. Navy, a native of Hondo, Texas, as commanding officer. The ship will be homeported in Norfolk, Va., and has a crew of 26 officers and 330 enlisted personnel. It is 505 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 66 feet, and displaces approximately 8,850 tons when fully loaded. Four gas turbine engines power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.

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