The newest Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer, Pinckney (DDG 91), will be christened Saturday, June 29, 2002, during a 10 a.m. CDT ceremony at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, Miss.
The ship honors Navy Cook Third Class William Pinckney, (1915-1975), recipient of the Navy Cross for his courageous rescue of a fellow crewmember onboard the USS Enterprise (CV 6) during the World War II Battle of Santa Cruz. When an explosion killed four of the six men at his battle station in an ammunition handling room, Pinckney and the other surviving sailor attempted to exit through a hatch to the hangar deck above. When the other man grasped the scorching hatch, he fell back unconscious. Despite the suffocating smoke, flames, and gasoline fumes surrounding him, Pinckney carried the sailor to safety. For his selfless heroism, Pinckney was awarded the Navy Cross.
Mississippi's senior U.S. Senator, The Honorable Thad Cochran, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Henrietta Middleton Pinckney will serve as sponsor for the ship named for her husband. In the time-honored Navy tradition, she will break a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen Pinckney.
Pinckney is the 41st ship of a planned production run of 63 vessels. These multi-mission ships 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. DDG 91 will be 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. Robert M. Byron, USN, a 1985 graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy, will be the prospective commanding officer of the ship with a crew of approximately 383 officers and enlisted. Upon its commissioning in early 2004, Pinckney will be homeported in San Diego, Calif., as an element of Destroyer Squadron 23. The 9,300-ton Pinckney is 509.5 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, an overall beam of 66.5 feet, and a navigational draft of 31.9 feet. Four gas turbine propulsion plants will power the ship to speeds above 30 knots.
For more information on Arleigh Burke class destroyers, visit http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/ships/ship-dd.html.