PCU STOCKDALE, At Sea (NNS) -- The soon-to-be-commissioned guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Stockdale (DDG 106), transited through the Panama Canal March 8 and 9 with some special guests aboard.
The newest Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is named after Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale, whose family met the ship in Colon, Panama for its passage through the canal. Taylor Stockdale, Adm. Stockdale's son, along with his wife Anne and their two children, Bailey and Claire, were aboard for 12 hours and observed the canal from different vantage points on the ship.
The Stockdales spent time on the bridge while in the Gatun Locks and watched "up close" how locomotives pull the ship through the locks. Additionally, they witnessed the bridge team conduct higher level ship-handling before the canal pilot took control of the ship in the locks.
Once the ship made it through the first locks, the family explored the ship with Stockdale Sailors. Following a tour of the mess decks, command information center, bridge and the SH-60 helicopter, representing
"Battlecats" of Helicopter Squadron, Light (HSL) 43, the family had the opportunity to meet more than 50 crew members who will help bring their father and grandfather's namesake ship to life.
Stockdale's son expressed his appreciation to the ship's commanding officer, Cmdr. Fred Kacher.
"Thank you so much for allowing us to take part in this incredible journey. We truly valued seeing the crew of [PCU] Stockdale in action." Stockdale said, adding, "My dad would be so proud of you and your Sailors."
The Navy announced in January 2006 that DDG 106 would be named after the late Vice Adm. Stockdale, and since then, Mrs. Sybil Stockdale, the admiral's widow, and her family have maintained a close relationship with the ship and her crew. The family visited the ship while under construction in Maine and during the ship's christening in May 2008. In turn, Kacher attended the dedication of Adm. Stockdale's statue at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
Kacher has been a supporter of arranging the family embarkation for some time., and credited his executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Brandon Bryan, for being the true architect of the embarkation.
"Over the past two years, we have had the privilege of getting to know the Stockdales and they have been wonderful to our ship, which bears the name of their father and grandfather and a genuine American hero. We are so grateful to Commander, Third Fleet for allowing us this opportunity to bond with the Stockdale family at sea."
Stockdale is scheduled for commissioning April 18 in Port Hueneme, Calif. and will be Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet's newest addition to the destroyer fleet. Destroyers like the Stockdale provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities and can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups, and underway replenishment groups.
For more news from Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c3f/.