US naval shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) has launched the Arleigh Burke-class (DDG 51) guided missile destroyer Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG 121) on 13 July.
“This is the one of the most significant milestones in the life of any ship,” said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. “Our shipbuilders implement such an organized launch plan, and they have once again executed it in a quality manner. We are proud to have DDG 121 one step closer to completion and look forward to presenting this invaluable asset to the Navy fleet in the future.”
To date, Ingalls has delivered 30 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to the U.S. Navy, most recently delivering USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), which was commissioned on March 24. Other destroyers currently under construction at Ingalls include Paul Ignatius (DDG 117), Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123) and Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125).
“Launch and translation are always exciting turning points in the life of a ship,” said George Nungesser, Ingalls’ DDG program manager. “Our team works vigorously to ensure everything is in place in the weeks leading up to launch to ensure its success. Serial production has allowed us the opportunity for learning that has been vital to the continued progress of the DDG 51 program.”
DDG 121 honors Frank Emmanuel Petersen Jr., who was the Marine Corps’ first African-American aviator and general officer. After entering the Naval Aviation Cadet Program in 1950, Petersen would go on to fly more than 350 combat missions throughout the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are capable, multi-mission ships and can conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection, all in support of the United States’ military strategy. The guided missile destroyers are capable of simultaneously fighting air, surface and subsurface battles. The ship contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs well into the 21st century.