The newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, Nitze will be christened on Saturday, April 17, 2004, during a 1 p.m. EDT ceremony at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine.
Sen. Susan M. Collins of Maine will deliver the ceremonys principal address. Leezee Porter will serve as sponsor of the ship named for her husband. In the time-honored Navy tradition, she will break the bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen Nitze.
The ships name honors Paul H. Nitze, whose distinguished government career included serving as the 57th secretary of the Navy from 1963 to 1967. Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England said, "Paul Nitze is a great American patriot. Throughout a lifetime of service he has been a trusted advisor to our country's presidents and other leaders. Ambassador Nitze stood the watch and bravely defied the fascists and communists who threatened freedom during World War II and the Cold War. His contributions to the Navy and our nation are many and we are honored to have this fine ship bear his name."
As the Navy secretary, Nitze raised the level of attention given to quality of service issues. His many achievements included establishing the first personnel policy board and retention task force obtaining targeted personnel bonuses, and raising command responsibility pay. Nitze also became a strong advocate for officers' advanced education opportunities and worked to enhance greater integration of senior Navy staff by moving the chief of naval operations' office next to his own.
Born in Amherst, Mass., on Jan. 16, 1907, Nitze graduated "cum laude" from Harvard University in 1928. After working in investment banking where he was known as a Wall Street prodigy, he left that industry in 1941 to enter government service. During the period 1944-1946, Nitze served as director and then as vice chairman of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey for which President Truman awarded him the Medal of Merit.
From 1953 to 1961, Nitze served as president of the Foreign Service Educational Foundation while concurrently serving as associate of the Washington Center of Foreign Policy Research, the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University. In 1961 President Kennedy appointed Nitze assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs and in 1963 he became the secretary of the Navy, serving until 1967.
Following his term as secretary of the Navy, he served as deputy secretary of defense (1967-1969), as a member of the U.S. delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) (1969-1973), and assistant secretary of defense for international affairs (1973-1976). He was President Reagan's chief negotiator of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (1981-1984). In 1984, Nitze was named special advisor to the president and secretary of state on arms control. For more than forty years, Nitze was one of the chief architects of U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union. President Reagan awarded Nitze the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985 for his contributions to the freedom and security of the United States.
Nitze, designated DDG 94, is the 44th ship of 62 Arleigh Burke class destroyers currently authorized by Congress. This highly capable multi-mission ship 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. Nitze 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.
Cdr. Michael Hegarty of Oklahoma will become the first commanding officer of the ship with a crew of approximately 32 officers and 348 enlisted. Bath Iron Works is building the 9,200-ton Nitze, which is 511 feet in length, with an overall beam of 66 feet, and a navigational draft of 33 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.
For more information on Arleigh Burke class destroyers, visit http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/ships/ship-dd.html.