The Navy will commission the newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, James E. Williams
, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2004, during a ceremony at the Naval Weapons Station, Charleston, S.C.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina will
deliver the principal address. Elaine Weaver Williams, widow of the ship’s namesake, is the ship’s sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition of commissioning U.S. naval ships, Mrs. Williams will give the order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”
The ship is named to honor Petty Officer 1st Class James Elliott Williams
(1930-1999) of Darlington, S.C., one of the most highly decorated enlisted sailors in the history of the U.S. Navy. On Oct. 31, 1966, Williams was boat captain of river patrol boat (PBR) 105 when his boat and another PBR, assisted by helicopter gunships, engaged scores of enemy boats on the Mekong River in South Vietnam. After three hours of heavy fighting, Williams' patrol had engaged 65 enemy boats and more than 1,000 enemy troops. Williams, who later served as U.S. marshal for the district of South Carolina, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.
James E. Williams is the 45th ship in the Arleigh Burke class of
guided-missile destroyers. 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. James E.
Williams will be capable of fighting air, surface, and subsurface battles simultaneously. The ship contains a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs well into the 21st century.