The Navy will christen the newest guided-missile destroyer, Spruance, Saturday, June 5, 2010, during a 10 a.m. EDT ceremony at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine. The new destroyer honors legendary Adm. Raymond Spruance, whose calm and decisive leadership at the Battle of Midway contributed to a pivotal American victory during World War II.
Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Ellen Spruance Holscher, granddaughter of the ship’s namesake, will serve as sponsor, and in accordance with Navy tradition, will break a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship.
Born in Baltimore, July 3, 1886, Spruance graduated from the Naval Academy in 1906. His Navy career was extensive, including command of five destroyers and the battleship Mississippi. Spruance led Task Force 16, with two aircraft carriers, during the 1942 Battle of Midway, where his disposition of forces and management of aircraft was crucial to a victory that is regarded as the turning point in the Pacific war with Japan. He later directed campaigns that captured the Gilberts, Marshalls, Marianas, Iwo Jima and Okinawa and defeated the Japanese fleet in the 1944 Battle of Philippine Sea. After commanding the Pacific Fleet in 1945-46, Spruance served as president of the Naval War College until retiring in 1948. In 1952-55, he was ambassador to the Philippines. Spruance died at Pebble Beach, Calif., Dec. 13, 1969.
Designated DDG 111, Spruance is the 61st ship of the Arleigh Burke class, a multi-mission guided missile destroyer designed to operate in multi-threat air, surface and subsurface threat environments. The class provides outstanding combat capability and survivability characteristics while minimizing procurement and lifetime support costs.
The ship will be the second ship named for Spruance. The first USS Spruance (DD 963) was the lead ship of Spruance class destroyers serving from 1973 to 2005.
Cmdr. Tate Westbrook, a native of Murfreesboro, Tenn., is the prospective commanding officer and will lead a crew of 276 officers and enlisted personnel. The 9,200-ton Spruance is 509 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.
Media may direct queries to the Navy Office of Information at 703-697-5342. Additional information on Arleigh Burke class destroyers is available online at http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=4200&tid=900&ct=4.