The newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, James E. Williams, will be christened on Saturday, June 28, 2003, during a 10 a.m. CDT ceremony at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, Miss.
Acting Secretary of the Navy Hansford T. Johnson, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Mrs. Elaine W. Williams, widow of he ship’s namesake, will serve as ship’s sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition, Williams will break a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship.
The ship is named to honor Boatswain's Mate First Class James Elliot Williams (1930-1999) of Darlington, S.C. Williams was boat captain of river patrol boat (PBR) 105 on Oct. 31, 1966, on the Mekong River in South Vietnam when his boat and another PBR, assisted by helicopter gunships, engaged scores of enemy boats. After three hours of heavy fighting, Williams' patrol had accounted for the destruction of 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. Williams was the most highly decorated enlisted man in the history of the U.S. Navy.
Williams, designated DDG 95, is the 45th ship of 62 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers currently authorized by Congress. It is the 21st Aegis destroyer to be christened of 28 ships under contract to Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. 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. Williams 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. Philip Warren Vance of Philadelphia will become the first commanding officer of the ship with a crew of approximately 365 officers and enlisted personnel. Williams is 509.5 feet in length, has an overall beam of 66 feet and a navigational draft of 33 feet. Four gas-turbine engines power the 9,300-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.