Delivery ceremony at Ingalls Shipbuilding
This morning marked the delivery of Ingalls Shipbuilding’s 30th Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer Ralph Johnson to the U.S. Navy. News 25’s Caroline Eaker was on hand at the special ceremony.
The Ralph Johnson, a guided missile destroyer, has been a work in progress at the Ingalls Shipyard for years now, but Wednesday Commander Jason Patterson and his crew finally took custody of the ship during a long awaited delivery ceremony. “The ship has been under construction here in the yard for over four years. Much of the crew has been forming and consolidating over the course of the last year and a half to two years. I have been effectively with this ship for two years. While the shipyard has been building a ship, we have been building a crew.”
This ship was named after 19-year-old Ralph Johnson who sacrificed himself to save others during the Vietnam War. This ship’s name has a special meaning to the three hundred sailors who will be aboard. “You know, named after a recon Marine from Vietnam, a Medal of Honor, he gave his life for his Marines and his country.”
Gunners mate Chief William Watkins said, “That’s what any person in the armed forces should do no matter race, religion, anything. You should sacrifice yourself.”
For shipbuilder Freddie O’Brien there is meaning in the ship’s name and the ship itself. After 40 years of shipbuilding, the Ralph Johnson will be his last. “Ralph Johnson would be about 68-years-old now. I’m 66. We would have been about the same age had he not decided to make that ultimate sacrifice. Lots of the folks I worked with on this ship I have worked with on previous ships. I have tried my best to mentor some of those and I have done a pretty good job of it.”
In the hands of the Navy, the destroyer will begin its next steps towards its commissioning in Charleston, South Carolina, Ralph’s hometown, next March.