The newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, Forrest Sherman will be christened on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2004, during a 10 a.m. CST ceremony at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, Miss.
Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi will deliver the ceremonys principal address. Ann Sherman Fitzpatrick will serve as sponsor of the ship named for her father. In the time-honored Navy tradition, she will break the bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen Forrest Sherman.
The new destroyer honors Adm. Forrest Percival Sherman (1896-1951). Sherman served as Chief of Naval Operations from November 1949 until his death on July 22, 1951. Following World War I service, he was designated a naval aviator and later served on the USS Lexington during the carrier's first year in service. He twice held squadron commands on the USS Saratoga and served as navigator on the USS Ranger prior to joining the staff of commander, U.S. Fleet.
When World War II began, he served in the War Plans Division under the chief of naval operations. After assuming command of the USS Wasp in May 1942, he attained the rank of captain and earned the Navy Cross for his leadership of that ship during early phases of the occupation and defense of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. After a Japanese submarine sank the USS Wasp on Sept. 15, 1942, he became chief of staff, to commander air force, Pacific Fleet and served in that capacity until November 1943, when he became deputy chief of staff to Adm. Chester W. Nimitz. He earned a Distinguished Service Medal for his role in planning the capture of the Gilberts, Marshalls, Marianas, Western Carolines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.
Following a brief tenure as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Mediterranean, Sherman became the youngest man ever to serve as chief of naval operations on Nov. 2, 1949. One previous ship named in his honor, the USS Forrest Sherman (1955-1982), earned a Navy Unit Commendation and performed distinguished service off Lebanon (1958), Quemoy-Matsu (1958), Cuba (1961), and in the Indian Ocean (1980).
Forrest Sherman is the 48th 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. Forrest Sherman 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. Michael G. Van Durick of Pennsylvania will become the first commanding officer of the ship, which has accommodations for 383 officers and enlisted personnel. The 9,200-ton Forrest Sherman is being built by Northrop-Grumman Ship Systems. It has an overall length of 509.5 feet, a waterline beam of 59 feet and a navigational draft of 32 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.
For more information regarding the christening ceremony please contact the Navy news desk at (703) 697-5342. For additional information on Arleigh Burke class destroyers, visit http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/ships/ship-dd.html .