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News Release


Release No: 412-96
July 03, 1996


The U.S. Navy will officially name roll-on/roll-off ship USNS Gordon (T-AKR 296) in a ceremony at 10 a.m., Thursday, July 4, 1996, at Newport News, Va.

The ship will be named in honor of Master Sergeant Gary I. Gordon, United States Army, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1994 for his gallantry in action in Mogadishu, Somalia. Gordon, born in Lincoln, Maine, August 30, 1960, was assigned to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C. He was on a military mission with Task Force Ranger in Somalia, October 3, 1993, when he died assisting downed pilot Chief Warrant Officer Michael Durant. After two helicopters were hit, Gordon and another soldier, Sergeant First Class Randall Shughart, were inserted into the crash site under heavy fire. After pulling the injured crew from the aircraft, they established a defensive perimeter and continued to engage the enemy. Gordon was killed after his ammunition ran out. Shughart, killed in the same battle, was also awarded the Medal of Honor. The Navy's first conversion LMSR ship was named for Shughart in a ceremony in San Diego, Calif., April 13, 1996.

The Honorable John P. Murtha, Congressman from Pa., will be the ceremony's principal speaker. Serving as the ship's sponsor will be Carmen Gordon, widow of the ship's namesake.

Distinguished guests attending the ceremony include the Honorable John W. Douglass, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition; General Dennis J. Reimer, Army Chief of Staff; General (Retired) Wayne A. Downing, former Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command; Vice Admiral George R. Sterner, Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command; Vice Admiral Philip M. Quast, Commander, Military Sealift Command; General Henry Shelton, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command; General (Retired) Gordon Sullivan, former Army Chief of Staff; Brigadier General (Retired) William G. Boykin, Master Sgt. Gordon's Commanding Officer in Somalia and former Commander of the Army's Combat Applications Group; and Mr. William P. Fricks, President and Chief Executive Officer, Newport News Shipbuilding.

Gordon is the second ship to undergo conversion from a commercial container vessel to a Large Medium Speed Roll On/Roll Off (LMSR) sealift ship and will be operated by the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C. Gordon's roll on/roll off design makes it ideal for transporting helicopters, tanks, trucks and other wheeled and tracked military vehicles and will provide more than 330,000 square feet of cargo carrying space. The cargo ship is 956 feet in length, has a beam of 105.9 feet and displaces approximately 55,422 tons when fully loaded. Three low speed diesels power the ship to speeds up to 24 knots. Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton views this program as vital to improving America's strategic sealift capability.

For information on the ceremony, please contact Mr. Mike Hatfield, Director of Communication, Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, at (804) 380-2932.

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