Navy to Christen New Destroyer Chaffee

Wednesday, November 06, 2002
The newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, Chafee will be christened on Monday, November 11, 2002, during a 3:30 p.m. ceremony at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine. The ship honors John Hubbard Chafee of Providence, R.I. Chafee distinguished himself as a U.S. senator, Navy secretary, Rhode Island governor, and a Marine -- with service as both an enlisted man and commissioned officer. Senator John Warner from Virginia will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Serving as co-sponsors for the ship will be Virginia Chafee, wife of the ship's namesake and Diane Blair, wife of retired Navy Adm. Dennis C. Blair, former commander, U.S. Pacific Command. In the time-honored Navy tradition of christening U.S. Naval ships, the co-sponsors will break a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen Chafee. Chafee is the 40th destroyer of the Arleigh Burke class and the 22nd to be built by Bath Iron Works. This multi-mission ship will conduct sustained combat operations at sea, providing primary protection for the Navy's aircraft carriers and battle groups, as well as essential escort to Navy and Marine Corps amphibious forces and auxiliary ships, and will perform independent operations as necessary. Chafee 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. John W. Ailes of New London, Conn., is the prospective commanding officer of Chafee with a crew of approximately 30 officers and 355 enlisted. The ship's keel was laid April 2001 and is scheduled to be commissioned in the fall of 2003. Chafee will be homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as an element in the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The 8,344-ton Chafee is 511 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, an overall beam of 66 ft., and a navigational draft of 33 ft. Four gas turbine propulsion plants will power the ship to speeds of more than 30 knots.

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