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News Release


Release No: 551-95
October 13, 1995



The U.S. Navy will commission the guided missile destroyer, Fitzgerald (DDG 62) at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 14, 1995, at Newport, Rhode Island.

Representative Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island will be the ceremony's principal speaker. Mrs. Betty Ann Fitzgerald, wife of the late Lieutenant William C. Fitzgerald for whom the ship is named and the Fitzgerald's sponsor, will attend the ceremony, as will The Honorable, Richard Danzig, Under Secretary of the Navy.

The Fitzgerald is named for Lieutenant William Charles Fitzgerald who was presented the Navy Cross posthumously for extraordinary heroism during combat operations in Vietnam. On August 7, 1967, while serving as senior advisor to Coastal Group Sixteen, Lieutenant Fitzgerald's base was attacked and overrun by Viet Cong forces. Lieutenant Fitzgerald requested an artillery barrage be laid down on his position and ordered his men to evacuate the base toward a nearby river while he remained in a bunker providing fire. He was fatally shot by Viet Cong forces before he could escape. Fitzgerald Hall at the Surface Warfare Officers School Command in Newport, Rhode Island, also is named for Lieutenant Fitzgerald.

No previous U.S. Navy ships have borne this name.

Fitzgerald is the 12th of 32 Arleigh Burke Class ships authorized by Congress to be built. These multi-mission ships are equipped with the Navy's Aegis combat weapons system, which combines space-age communication, radar and weapons technologies in a single

platform for unlimited flexibility while operating "Forward ...From the Sea." These new destroyers will replace older, less capable ships that are being taken out of service as the Navy reduces spending while maintaining quality as part of its overall plan to modernize the fleet. These versatile ships are designed to operate independently or in support of aircraft carrier and amphibious operations.

The ship is equipped to carry Standard surface-to-air missiles and Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from forward and aft vertical launching systems; two fully automated radar

controlled Phalanx close-in weapon systems; Harpoon anti-ship missiles; one five-inch gun; and electronic warfare systems. Fitzgerald is 505 feet in length, has a beam of 66 feet and displaces approximately 8,500 tons fully loaded. The ship will have a crew of 23 officers and 315 Sailors. Commander Gary M. Holst, USN, a native of Middletown, New Jersey, will be the ship's commanding officer.

Media wishing to attend the ceremony should contact Mr. David Sanders, Naval Education and Training Center, Newport, Rhode Island, at (401) 841-3538.

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