The newest Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer, Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), will be christened and launched April 17, during a 1:30 p.m. (EDT) ceremony at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine.
Janet Langhart Cohen, wife of Secretary of Defense William Cohen, is the ship's sponsor and Lady Mary Soames, (Churchill's youngest and last surviving child), will serve as honorary sponsor for the United Kingdom. They will be joined by a host of dignitaries, including Secretary Cohen; British Secretary of Defence George Robertson; Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig; Royal Navy First Sea Lord Adm. Sir Michael Boyce; and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jay Johnson.
"When that ship slips down the ways in the final year of this century, its name will ride the seas as a reminder for the coming century of an indomitable man who shaped our age, who stood always for freedom, who showed anew the glorious strength of the human spirit," President Bill Clinton said Nov. 29, 1995, when he announced to both Houses of Parliament that the U.S. Navy destroyer would bear Churchill's name.
While Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874-1965) was best known for his courageous leadership as British prime minister during World War II, he was also a formidable political thinker, soldier, pilot, farmer, bricklayer and orator. When he retired from the House of Commons in 1964, Churchill had spent over six decades in public life, a career that ran from the last great British cavalry charge to the nuclear age. He also won the 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature.
He became a Knight of the Garter, acquiring the title "Sir Winston" in 1953. He retired in April 1955, but remained a Member of Parliament for another nine years. The son of an American heiress, Churchill received honorary U.S. citizenship from President John F. Kennedy in 1963. He died at the age of 90 on Jan. 24, 1965.
Winston S. Churchill is the fourth American warship to be named in honor of an Englishman. The armed merchantman Alfred went into commission in December of 1775 as the first ship of the Continental Navy. It was named after Alfred the Great, the English king who has been called "Father of the Royal Navy." During the Revolutionary War, the Continental frigate Raleigh was named in honor of Sir Walter Raleigh, while another frigate was named Effingham in honor of the British Earl of Effingham, who resigned his commission rather than fight against the American colonists.
Winston S. Churchill is the 31th ship of the Arleigh Burke class and the 18th of the class to be built by Bath Iron Works. Truly multi-mission combatants, these destroyers are the most capable surface warships ever built. They are capabable of conducting a variety of missions, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection, in support of the National Military Strategy.
Equipped with the latest weapons, electronics, helicopter support facilities, and propulsion, auxiliary and survivability systems, these destroyers will carry out the Navy's missions well into the next century. State-of-the-art command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) systems provide their ships' crew with complete situational awareness.
This high tech destroyer is equipped with the Navy's modern Aegis combat weapons system, the world's foremost naval weapons system. Space-age communications, radar and weapons technologies are combined in a single platform for unlimited mission flexibility. The systems include the AN/SPY-1D phased array radar; the MK 41 Vertical Launching System, which fires a combination of up to 90 Standard surface-to-air, Tomahawk surface-to-surface missiles; and the AN/SQQ-89 Antisubmarine Warfare System, with a bow-mounted AN/SQS-53C sonar and AN/SQR-19 towed array. The tactical towed-array sonar provides long range passive detection of enemy submarines. The hull-mounted sonar can detect and track submarines actively and passively.
Winston S. Churchill has eight Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers and six MK 46 torpedo tubes, as well as two MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems and a multi-mission 5"/54 caliber deck-mounted gun which can be used as an anti-ship weapon, close-in point defense or in support of forces ashore with naval fires. The ship also features the LAMPS MK III Undersea Warfare Control System, with landing and replenishment facilities for the SH-60B helicopter.
Cmdr. Michael T. Franken, a native of Sioux City, Iowa, will command Winston S. Churchill. With a crew of 22 officers and 324 enlisted personnel, Winston S. Churchill will be homeported in Norfolk, Va., as part of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet upon commissioning in the year 2000. The ship is 505 feet in length, has a beam of 66 feet and displaces approximately 8,580 tons when fully loaded. Four gas-turbine engines power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.