The newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, Halsey (DDG 97) will be christened on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2004, during a 10 a.m. CST ceremony at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, Miss.
Adm. William J. Fallon, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, will deliver the ceremony’s principal address in concert with Haley Barbour, governor of Mississippi. Heidi Cooke Halsey, Anne Halsey-Smith, and Alice “Missy” Spruance Talbot will serve as sponsors of the ship named for their grandfather. In the time-honored Navy tradition, they will break the bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen Halsey.
Halsey honors U.S. Naval Academy graduate Adm. William F. Halsey Jr. (1882-1959). During World War I, Cmdr. Halsey was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions while in command of the USS Benham and the USS Shaw during convoy escort duties. Designated a naval aviator in 1935 at the age of 52, he took command of the USS Saratoga from 1935 until 1937. In February 1942, then Vice Adm. Halsey, while serving as commander, Carrier Division Two aboard the USS Enterprise, led the first counter-strikes of World War II against the Japanese with carrier raids on the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. Later that year, his task force launched the famous "Doolittle Raid" against targets on the Japanese homeland.
Assigned as commander, South Pacific Force and South Pacific Area on Oct. 18, 1942, Halsey led the Navy, Marine Corps, and Army forces that conquered the strategically important Solomon Islands. Subsequently as commander, Third Fleet, his task forces consistently won hard fought victories during campaigns in the Philippines, Okinawa, and other islands. Nicknamed "Bull" Halsey, he embodied his slogan, "hit hard, hit fast, hit often." On Dec. 11, 1945, he became the fourth officer to hold the rank of fleet admiral. One previous ship has been named Halsey (1963-1994), which earned eight battle stars for Vietnam Service in addition to a Navy Unit Commendation and a Meritorious Unit commendation, and participated in contingency operations in Korean waters (1969-1971) and in the Indian Ocean (1980).
Halsey is the 47th ship of 62 Arleigh Burke class destroyers currently authorized by Congress. This highly capable multi-mission ship 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. Halsey 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.
Cmdr. James L. Autrey, of Moore, Okla., will become the first commanding officer of the ship with a crew of approximately 32 officers and 348 enlisted. The 9,300-ton Halsey is being built by Northrop-Grumman Ship Systems, and is 509.5 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, an overall beam of 66.5 feet, and a navigational draft of 31.9 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the 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.