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Good morning Charleston!
Good morning Mrs. Neller, Mrs. Corriveau, all five of General & Dr. Petersen’s children, Major General Livingston, Secretary Campbell, Secretary Del Toro, General Berger, General Neller, Admiral Howard… distinguished guests … partners in industry … family, friends, and shipmates.
Today … we take great pleasure, immense pride, in commissioning the fighting ship you see behind me … 513 feet of fighting American steel and all that those three words embody. And in this coming year, 330 proud American Sailors will put this destroyer to sea and carry the name of Frank E. Petersen to the far-flung corners of the globe.
General Frank E. Petersen was no ordinary man … he was a United States Marine … and he was a trailblazer … the Corps’ first African-American aviator and general officer. Throughout his nearly four decades of service … he was a devoted husband to his beloved and late wife Dr. Alicia Petersen … and a loving father to five incredible children -- Gayle, Dana, Lindsay, Monique, and Frank E. Petersen III.
Throughout his career … Frank Petersen made waves across the fleet and pioneered a course for future Devil-Dogs and Sailors alike. He was committed to our nation, and that was beyond approach… and his courage as a fighter pilot set a sky-high standard for the ship that bears his name.
It is fitting that a name synonymous with service and sacrifice is engraved in the steel of this warship. Because our Arleigh-Burke class destroyers embody the fighting-spirit and the cool-under-pressure style of General Petersen.
In times past … it has often been the strength of our Fleet – our Sailors and Marines – that have tipped the scales of conflict against our adversaries.
Our role in the world has never been an easy one. It has not only required strength, but sacrifice. That is the price we should pay for our commitment to our ideals and a vision of a safe and secure world for all Americans.
Throughout its history … the American destroyer embodied our Navy’s strength and willingness to serve. Multi-mission by design – a Swiss Army Knife, if you will – destroyers charge into contested environments to take on the enemy, protect convoys and capital ships … so that we can control the seas … and project American power around the world.
A destroyer at flank speed serves as a not-so-gentle reminder to every nation that we will bear any burden, that we will support any friend, oppose any foe … to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
Just over 30 years ago … the Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer became the gold standard for the modern surface combatant.
And now today, as the 71st Arleigh Burke-Class Destroyer and 43rd Flight IIA enters our Fleet, we can continue that proud heritage. The USS Frank E. Petersen Jr represents the continued dedication and commitment of our Sailors and Civilians … the skill and innovation of our shipyards and our industry partners … and the commitment of the American people to keep the seas free and open for all.
For the crew of the Frank E. Petersen Jr., I wish you the very best as you strive to serve with the same honor, the same courage, and the same commitment of your ship’s namesake.
May God Bless you, your families, and your many voyages to come. Thank you.
Adm. Mike Gilday
14 May 2022
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