The U.S. Navy will christen its newest roll-on/roll-off cargo ship USNS CHARLTON (T-AKR 314) during a ceremony at 9:30 a.m. PST, Saturday, Dec. 11, 1999, at National Steel and Shipbuilding, San Diego, Calif.
Army Maj. Gen. Mario F. Montero Jr., assistant deputy chief of staff for Logistics will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Fairy M. Papadopoulos, sister of the ship's namesake and Marion White, wife of retired Justice Byron R. White, will serve as co-ship's sponsors. In the time-honored Navy tradition, Papadopoulos and Mrs. White will break a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally name the ship.
The ship will be named CHARLTON (T-AKR 314) to honor Army Sgt. Cornelius H. Charlton, (1929-1951), awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for bravery during an attack on a heavily defended position in Korea, June 2, 1951. When his platoon leader was wounded, Charlton assumed command and rallied the men for an assault against enemy positions on a commanding hill. He personally eliminated two hostile positions, killing six of the enemy with rifle and grenades. When the unit became pinned down, he led his men forward before he suffered a severe chest wound from an enemy grenade. Charlton refused medical attention and led another daring charge despite being mortally wounded. No previous ship has been named Charlton.
The fifth in the Watson class of large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off sealift ships, CHARLTON is a non-combatant vessel built by National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. It will be crewed by civilian mariners and operated by the Navy's Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C. Its roll-on/roll-off design makes it ideal for transporting helicopters, tanks and other wheeled and tracked military vehicles. CHARLTON, with approximately 390,000 square feet of cargo carrying space, is 950 feet in length, has a beam of 105.8 feet, and displaces approximately 62,000 long tons. The gas turbine-powered ship will be able to sustain speeds up to 24 knots.