Q: I wanted to ask, transitioning to Flight III we’re also seeing a lot of cruiser retirements coming up. Can these ships take over the air defense commander roles from the cruisers?
ADM. GILDAY: Yeah, they can. And so we do that now – we do that now with the Flight IIs and we can certainly do it with the Flight IIIs. I think, importantly, with the Flight IIIs we’re also leading the way in the transition with DDG(X) towards the end of this decade. And so I expect Flight III DDGs, along with DDG(X), to be around for decades and decades. And, certainly, that air missile and defense commander role is going to be right – a core mission for them throughout that timeframe.
Q: And just a quick follow up. You mentioned DDG(X) and the transition. How many of these Flight IIIs do you still need?
ADM. GILDAY: As many as we can build, quite frankly. We just see the demand for destroyers increasing, and for the surface Navy in general is on the increase. And so, you know, I’ve said publicly that, you know, we need a high number of small surface combatants as well as large surface combatants. There’s going to be a definite role for these – for these Flight IIIs in the – in the future. I’m very certain of that, very confident of that.
Q: Thank you.
ADM. GILDAY: You’re welcome.
Q: So, in your opinion, what makes these destroyers set the standard for the following ships to come?
ADM. GILDAY: So Ingalls has been building these destroyers for decades, 40 years now this class of ship. This is the 75th DDG hull that we’ve christened. And so they know what they’re doing.
HII – Huntington Ingalls Industries and Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding – I consider them to be world class with respect to shipbuilding. And the only reason why they can be world class, besides the exquisite technology that they have down here, is the fact that the team that builds these ships, they’re like Olympic athletes. They’re like gold-medal Olympic athletes. And so this is a shipyard that really does set the pace. If the United States Navy is the pacing threat in the world with respect to navies, I consider this shipyard to be pacing many others with respect to the quality of the ships that they produce.
Q: And could you talk again about the valor and the quality of the people who will be serving on this ship?
ADM. GILDAY: Absolutely. So we’re very proud of our sailors, and the sailors actually bring the ship to life, right? And in this case, Jack H. Lucas was a Marine Medal of Honor winner, and we are christening this ship on the celebration of the battle that he helped win, and that’s the battle for Iwo Jima. And, of course, all are familiar with the – with the flag raising at – on Mount Suribachi.
So that kind of fighting spirit, that determination, that indestructible nature of Jack Lucas; that the sailors on this ship, I believe, are going to embody Jack’s spirit, and so they’re going to bring this ship alive when she sails about a year from now and she joins the fleet. So I look forward to that. And I look forward to coming back, seeing this crew on this ship, because I know that they’re going to be among the best in the fleet.
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