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 recipient and then launch the ship on Friday, Oct. 2, 1998, during a 7 p.m. (EDT) naming ceremony at National Steel Shipbuilding Co., San Diego, Calif.
USNS Dahl (T-AKR 312) will be named in honor of Army Spec. Larry G. Dahl, (1949-1971), a native of Portland, Ore., posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Under Secretary of the Navy Jerry M. Hultin, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Mrs. Michelle Dahl Steanson, widow of the ship's namesake, is the ship's sponsor and will christen the ship with the traditional ceremonial bottle of champagne. Sgt. Michael Dahl, son of Spec. Dahl, will be the guest of honor. Spec. Dahl's mother, Mrs. Theo Dahl, will be the matron of honor and his granddaughter, Miss. Katherine Dahl, will serve as maid of honor.
Dahl was awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry while serving in the 359th Transportation Company, 27th Transportation Battalion, U.S. Army Support Command in Vietnam on Feb. 23, 1971. The gun truck in which Dahl was riding was sent with two other gun trucks to assist in the defense of a convoy that had been ambushed by an enemy force. After a brief period of intense fighting, the attack subsided. As the trucks were preparing to return to their escort duties, an enemy hand grenade was thrown into the truck in which Spec. Dahl was riding. Instantly realizing the great danger, Spec. Dahl called a warning to his companions and threw himself directly onto the grenade. Through his indomitable courage, complete disregard for his safety, and profound concern for his fellow soldiers, Dahl sacrificed his life to save the other members of the truck crew.
The new large, medium speed, roll-on/roll-off (LMSR) ship is a central part of America's sealift power projection into the next century. The ship was constructed at National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. in San Diego, Calif., and will be operated by the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C. USNS Dahl's roll-on/roll-off design will enable the U.S. Navy to forward deploy helicopters, tanks, trucks and other military vehicles.
USNS Dahl is 950 feet in length, has a beam of 105 feet, a draft of 34 feet, and displaces approximately 62,700 tons when fully loaded. Dahl's cargo area equals more than eight football fields and can be loaded and unloaded in 96 hours. The ship can carry an entire U.S. Army armored task force, including 58 tanks, 48 other tracked vehicles and more than 900 trucks and other wheeled vehicles. Powered by two gas turbine engines, ship will be able to sustain speeds up to 24 knots.
A total of 19 LMSR's, a combination of existing ship conversions and new construction, are planned to be delivered by U.S. shipyards by the year 2001 under the Strategic Sealift Program, managed by the Naval Sea Systems Command. This fleet is intended to satisfy the nation's need for increased sealift readiness and to provide rapid delivery of urgently needed support and equipment to a theater of operation during crisis.
For more information please call Trish Larson, (202) 685-5055 at the U.S. Military Sealift Command.