The Department of the Navy will christen Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer Mason (DDG 87) Saturday, June 23, 2001, during a 2 p.m. EDT ceremony at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine.
The Mason is named in honor of two previous ships of that name. The first Mason (DD-191) (1920-1941) was named for John Young Mason, born April 18, 1799, in Greene County, Va. Both a political leader and diplomat, he was secretary of the Navy for Presidents John Tyler, 1844 to 1845, and James K. Polk, 1846 to 1849. As minister to France, he joined James Buchanan and Pierre Soul, ministers to Great Britain and Spain respectively, on Oct. 18, 1854, in issuing the famous Ostend Manifesto. This document justified seizing Cuba if Spain would not sell the colony to the United States. Mason died in Paris, France, Oct. 3, 1859.
The second Mason (DE 529) (1944-1945) was named for Ensign Newton Henry Mason, born Dec. 24, 1918, in New York City. He enlisted as a seaman in the Naval Reserve, Nov. 7, 1940 and on Feb. 10, 1941 was appointed an aviation cadet. Assigned to Fighting Squadron 3, he died following aerial combat against Japanese forces during the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 8 and 9, 1942. Mason was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his skill and courage in battle.
Rear Adm. David L. Brewer III, vice chief of Naval Education and Training, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine will serve as ship sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition, Snowe will break a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally name the ship.
Mason is the 37th ship of 57 Arleigh Burke class destroyers currently authorized by Congress. These highly-capable multi-mission ships can conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection, in support of the National Military Strategy. The mission of Mason is to conduct sustained combat operations at sea, providing primary protection for the Navy's aircraft carriers and battle groups, as well as essential escort to Navy and Marine Corps amphibious forces and auxiliary ships, and independent operations as necessary. The ship is capable of fighting air, surface, and subsurface
battles simultaneously. The ship contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs well into the 21st century.
Cmdr. David Gale of Lebanon, N.Y., will take command of Mason upon commissioning in the spring of 2003. With a crew of approximately 365 officers and enlisted personnel, Mason will be homeported in Norfolk, Va. Mason, the 21st Arleigh Burke class ship built by Bath Iron Works, is 509.5 feet in length, has an overall beam of 59 feet, and a navigational draft of 30 feet. Four gas-turbine engines power the 9,200 ton ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.
For more information on the Mason, visit: www.mason.navy.mil/.
For more information on Arleigh Burke class destroyers, visit: http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/ships/ship-dd.html .