The Navy will commission the newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, James E. Williams, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2004, during an 11 a.m. EST ceremony at the Naval Weapons Station, Charleston, S.C.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina will deliver the principal address. Elaine Weaver Williams, widow of the ships namesake, is the ships sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition of commissioning U.S. naval ships, Mrs. Williams will give the order to man our ship and bring her to life!
The ship is named to honor Petty Officer 1st Class James Elliott Williams (1930-1999) of Darlington, S.C., one of the most highly decorated enlisted sailors in the history of the U.S. Navy. On Oct. 31, 1966, Williams was boat captain of river patrol boat (PBR) 105 when his boat and another PBR, assisted by helicopter gunships, engaged scores of enemy boats on the Mekong River in South Vietnam. After three hours of heavy fighting, Williams' patrol had engaged 65 enemy boats and more than 1,000 enemy troops. Williams, who later served as U.S. marshal for the district of South Carolina, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.
James E. Williams is the 45th ship in the Arleigh Burke class of guided-missile destroyers. 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. James E. Williams will be capable of fighting air, surface, and subsurface battles simultaneously. The ship contains a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs well into the 21st century.
Cmdr. Philip Warren Vance of Philadelphia, Pa., is the ships first commanding officer and will lead a crew of approximately 365 officers and enlisted personnel.
Built by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, Miss., James E. Williams is 509.5 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, an overall beam of 66 feet, and a navigational draft of 33 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the 9,300-ton ship to speeds of more than 30 knots. For additional information on Arleigh Burke class destroyers, please visit the Navy Fact File: http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/ships/ship-dd.html.
For more information about this release contact the Navy news desk at 703-697-5342.