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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 588-97
October 31, 1997

SECRETARY OF THE NAVY ANNOUNCES THE NAME OFNEWLY CHARTERED SEALIFT SHIP FOR U.S. AIR FORCE HERO

Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton has announced that the owners of a commercial ship chartered to the Navy's Military Sealift Command (MSC) will rename vessel for a U.S. Air Force Medal of Honor recipient.

The ship will be named MV Capt. Steven L. Bennett in honor of Capt. Steven Logan Bennett, USAF (1946-1972). While assigned to the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron, Pacific Air Forces in Vietnam in June 1972, Capt. Bennett was a Forward Air Controller flying an artillery adjustment mission near Quang Tri. During the mission, Capt. Bennett struck heavily defended enemy troop positions which were attacking a surrounded friendly unit. After making four successful air runs and driving enemy troops back, Capt. Bennett decided to make a fifth strafing pass. As he made his final run, a surface to air missile struck his jet. He instructed his observer to prepare for an ejection, but was informed by the observer that his parachute had been shredded by the force of the impacting missile. Although Capt. Bennett had a good parachute, he knew that if he ejected, the observer would have no chance of survival. With complete disregard for his own life, Capt. Bennett elected to ditch the aircraft info the Gulf of Tonkin, even though he realized that a pilot of this type aircraft had never survived a ditching. For his heroism, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

"Memorializing Capt. Bennett with a ship named in his honor will serve as a reminder to all Americans of the sacrifices of many airmen who paid the ultimate price in defense of our country," said Secretary of the Air Force Sheila Widnall.

"This American hero epitomizes what 'service before self' is all about. May this ship serve as a testimonial to his devotion to this great nation," she said.

  • MV Capt. Steven L. Bennett is a container ship owned by Sealift Inc., of Oyster Bay, N.Y., that has been chartered to the Military Sealift Command for approximately five years. Military Sealift Command will use the vessel to preposition U.S. Air Force ammunition and related supplies at sea. Capt. Steven L. Bennett is 687 feet in length, with a beam of 100 feet, displaces approximately 59,207 tons when fully loaded and can be powered to speeds up to
  • 18 knots.