U.S. Navy Commissions Newest Arleigh Burke-Class Destroyer USS Paul Ignatius

The U.S. Navy commissioned its newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117), during a ceremony at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on July 27.

The ship is named in honor of Paul Robert Ignatius, who served in the U.S. Navy as a commissioned lieutenant during World War II aboard the Casablanca-class escort carrier USS Manila Bay (CVE 61). He later served as assistant secretary of defense for installations and logistics from 1964 – 1967, and secretary of the Navy from 1967 – 1969, during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration.

“What could be greater than serving aboard a Unites States destroyer,” said Ignatius himself, speaking from a podium aboard the ship’s quarterdeck. “Destroyers have an honorable role in Navy history because of their many capabilities.”

It was Dr. Elisa Ignatius, granddaughter to the ship’s sponsor, the late Nancy Ignatius, who ordered the crew to bring the ship to life. Sailors rushed from shore, carrying aboard their motto “ALWAYS READY, FIGHT ON,” running two-at-a time to populate the ship. Medals jangled from their dress whites as Paul Ignatius Sailors manned all rail space and deck stations available under a sun-lit, billowing Ensign.

“Thank you all for your mental toughness and unwavering dedication to get our ship through every milestone of performing at sea with excellence,” said Cmdr. Robby D. Trotter, commanding officer of Paul Ignatius, to his crew. “I’m extremely proud of each and every one of you.”

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer was the ceremony’s principal speaker.

“The ship in her magnificence alone provides peace through presence and will keep the maritime commons open, which is the artery of free trade and commerce for our allies, friends and ourselves,” said Spencer, the 76th Secretary of the Navy. “But please keep in mind that at a moment’s notice, this well-trained crew and this ship can be put into harm’s way as your forward-deployed force to deliver the fight tonight in order to keep our peace and prosperity. That is the mission of this crew. That is the mission of this ship. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the mission of your United States Navy.”

The guest speakers also included Fort Lauderdale’s Broward County Mayor Mark D. Bogen, who welcomed the community to the ceremony, and Huntington Ingalls Industry President Michael C. Peters, who shared details of the momentous energy and thought put into the ship’s design and construction.

Trotter reported Paul Ignatius ready and in his command to Adm. Craig Faller, Commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). About 310 officers and enlisted personnel make up the crew of Paul Ignatius, slated to be home ported in Mayport, Florida.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer sails up to 30 knots at sea, carrying advanced RADAR and SONAR systems that allow the ship to engage targets in the air, on the sea and underwater. The decks host two MK 41 Vertical Launching Systems (VLS), one five-inch gun turret, a close-in weapons system (CIWS) and two MK 32 triple-barrel torpedo mounts.

DDG-117 is the Navy’s 67th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and the second of eight planned Flight IIA “technology insertion” ships. It will feature the Aegis Baseline 9 combat system that will allow the ship to simultaneously patrol for ballistic missile threats as well as combat traditional air and cruise missiles threats.

The Navy accepted delivery of the ship from Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Ingalls shipbuilding division on Feb. 22 this year.

Arleigh Burke-class guided missile 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  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.

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