The Navy will commission the newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, Nitze, during a 1 p.m. EST ceremony Saturday at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
John F. Lehman, former secretary of the Navy, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Elisabeth Scott Leezee Porter, the widow of Paul H. Nitze, is the ships sponsor. In a time-honored Navy tradition, Porter will give the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"
The destroyer honors Paul H. Nitze, secretary of the Navy from 1963 to 1967. Nitze raised the level of attention given to quality of service issues including establishing the first personnel policy board and retention task force, obtaining targeted personnel bonuses, and raising command responsibility pay. Nitze was also a strong advocate for advanced education opportunities for officers and worked to enhance cooperation of senior Navy staff.
Nitze graduated from Harvard University in 1928. After working in investment banking, he entered government service in 1941. From 1944 to 1946, Nitze served as director and then vice chairman of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey and was awarded the Medal of Merit by President Harry S Truman.
Nitzes 40-year commitment to government service spanned various roles including: assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs; deputy secretary of defense, U.S. delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT); assistant secretary of defense for international affairs; chief negotiator for the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and special advisor to the president and secretary of state on arms control.
In 1985, President Ronald Reagan awarded Nitze the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions to the freedom and security of the United States.
Nitze is the 44th 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. 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 is the Nitzes first commanding officer, leading a crew of about 32 officers and 348 sailors. Built by Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, the 9,200-ton Nitze is 511 feet in length, has 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