Mississippi Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck will join acting Secretary of the Navy Hansford T. Johnson as
speakers at a ceremony honoring one of the country's most decorated
sailors when the U.S. Navy's newest Aegis guided missile destroyer is
christened at Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE: NOC) Ship Systems
sector June 28.
The new ship, designated DDG 95, will be officially christened
James E. Williams to honor Boatswain's Mate First Class James
Williams (1930-1999). He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for
bravery and leadership in 1966 while serving as patrol commander of
River Patrol Boat 105 on the Mekong River during the Vietnam War.
Williams' widow, Mrs. Elaine Weaver Williams, of Darlington,
S.C., is Ship's Sponsor for DDG 95, and will splash a traditional
bottle of champagne across the ship's bow to christen the vessel at the
pinnacle of a ceremony to be held at Ingalls Operations on the west
bank of the Pascagoula River.
In addition to Lt. Gov. Tuck and Secretary Johnson, ceremony
participants will include Rear Adm. Charles S. Hamilton, III, U.S.
Navy, program executive officer, ships; Capt. Philip N. Johnson, U.S.
Navy, supervisor of shipbuilding, conversion and repair, Pascagoula;
Dr. Philip A. Dur, Northrop Grumman corporate vice president and
president of the company's Ship Systems sector; and Paul Robinson, vice
president of Ship Systems' Ingalls Operations.
James E. Williams' Acts of Bravery
On Oct. 31, 1966, Williams' River Patrol Boat, along with
another boat, was searching for Viet Cong guerillas operating in an
isolated area of the Mekong Delta River. While searching, they spotted
two fast speedboats crossing in front of them. As those two boats
split, Williams pursued one and sank it, then turned around to go after
the other boat. The boat was hiding in an eight-foot canal and
Williams knew his boat wouldn't fit. He looked at a map and found a
wider canal to use to intercept the boat. When he maneuvered towards
this canal, he and his crew found themselves under heavy fire from
enemy boats and shore batteries. Williams and his crew shot back and
continued a fierce battle for more than three hours before U.S.
helicopter support arrived.
By this time, Williams' patrol had accounted for the
destruction or loss of 65 enemy boats and more than 1,000 enemy troops.
Williams retired from the Navy in 1967, and was appointed as
U.S. Marshal for the District of South Carolina in 1969.
James E. Williams is the 45th ship in the DDG 51 Arleigh
Burke-class of Aegis guided missile destroyers
- the Navy's most
powerful destroyer fleet. These highly capable, multimission surface
combatants can conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence
and crisis management to sea control and power projection.
DDG 95 is the 21st Aegis destroyer
to be christened of 28 ships
under contract to Ship Systems.
Construction of James E. Williams began July 30, 2001, and DDG
95's keel was laid July 15, 2002. Upon completion of outfitting, as
well as dockside
and at-sea testing and crew training, DDG 95 will be
commissioned USS James E. Williams for Atlantic Fleet duty in early
Cmdr. Philip W. Vance, U.S.Navy, a native of Philadelphia, Pa.,
and a 1986 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, is the new ship's
Prospective Commanding Officer.