The Department of the Navy will commission Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer Lassen (DDG 82) Saturday, April 21, 2001, during an 11 a.m. EST ceremony at the Florida Aquarium Pier in Tampa, Fla.
The ship is named in honor of Navy Cmdr. Clyde Everett Lassen, a native of Fort Myers, Fla., (1942-1994), who received the Medal of Honor for his courageous rescue of two downed aviators while commander of a search and rescue helicopter in Vietnam.
On June 19, 1968, Lassen, a lieutenant flying a UH-2 Seasprite helicopter, made several attempts to recover the pilots, but dense tree cover, enemy fire, and intermittent illumination conspired to frustrate his efforts. Determined to complete his mission, Lassen turned on the landing lights of his helicopter despite the danger of revealing his position to the enemy. After the pilots made their way to the helicopter, Lassen, his bullet-riddled helicopter dangerously low on fuel, evaded further anti-aircraft fire before landing safely on a guided missile destroyer, the USS Jouett (DLG 29). Lassen became the first naval aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in Vietnam. One previous Navy ship named Lassen (AE 3) (1941-1947), an ammunition ship named for the volcanic peak in the Volcanic National Park, Calif., received three battle stars during World War II.
Vice Adm. Edward Moore Jr., commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Linda B. Lassen, wife of the ship's namesake and Barbara O. Pilling, wife of retired Adm. Donald Pilling, former vice chief of Naval Operations, will serve as ship co-sponsors. In the time-honored Navy tradition, the sponsors will give the order to "bring our ship to life."
Lassen is the 32nd ship of 58 Arleigh Burke class destroyers currently authorized by Congress. These highly-capable multi-mission ships 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.
The mission of Lassen is to conduct sustained combat operations at sea. The ship is capable of fighting air, surface, and subsurface battles simultaneously. It is equipped with the AN/SPY-1D phased array radar, the most powerful air search radar in Navy's inventory. The ship contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs well into the 21st century.
Cmdr. Sean O'Connor, a native of Rumson, N.J., is the commanding officer of Lassen. With a crew of 32 officers, and 348 chiefs and enlisted personnel, Lassen will be homeported in San Diego, Calif., as a member of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The ship was built by Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., and is 513 feet in length and has four gas-turbine engines which power the 9,238 ton 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 or the ship's web site at: http://www.lassen.navy.mil/.