BATH, Maine (BIW) (NNS) -- The future USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116) departed General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard Oct. 10 to continue down the coast to her homeport in Mayport, Fla.
After six years of hard work and dedication, shipbuilders and crew stood pierside together for the last time in the shadow of the surface Navy’s most recent achievement. With her freshly painted hull gleaming in the rays of sunlight and a steady wind flowing through her colors high on the mast, the ship sailed away from Bath Iron Works and down the Kennebec River toward the Atlantic Ocean. Like many ships before her, welcomed by Poseidon at the mouth of the Kennebec, DDG 116 entered the open ocean with all the pride and honor of her namesake.
“The interactions that my fellow shipmates and I have had with Capt. Hudner and his family throughout the last few years have strengthened our bond to the ship and each other,” said Machinist Mate 1st Class Heath Jones, the ship’s Sailor of the Quarter.
“The crew has embodied a spirit of honor, trust, and dedication to the ship and one another. We have diligently worked alongside our BIW counterparts to learn our new systems and hone our skills. I am overwhelmingly ready and excited to take this great ship to sea and to show the world just what she can do!”
Capt. Thomas J. Hudner, Jr. was born Aug. 31, 1924, in Fall River, Mass. He attended the United States Naval Academy and graduated with the class of 1947 as a Naval aviator. On Dec. 4, 1950, then Lt.j.g.Thomas Hudner, Jr. and his element leader, Ens. Jesse L. Brown, were among a group of six pilots on patrol near the Chosin Reservoir when Brown's Corsair was struck by ground fire from Chinese troops and crashed. In an attempt to save Brown from his burning aircraft, Hudner intentionally crash-landed his own aircraft on a snowy mountain in freezing temperatures. In spite of these efforts, Brown died of his injuries and Hudner was forced to evacuate, having also been injured in the landing.
Lt j.g. Thomas Hudner, Jr. received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions in trying to save the life of his element leader, shipmate, and friend during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War.
“Meeting and getting to know Capt. Hudner allowed my crew and I to have a deeper understanding of what he stood for; it has truly been a unique privilege for us,” said Cmdr. Nathan Scherry, the ship’s first commanding officer, in sharing his heartfelt sentiment about the occasion.
“We strive to operate in the spirit of Capt. Hudner in all that we do onboard to pay homage to our great namesake. I am thankful for the opportunity to lead more than 300 of America’s finest men and women as we prepare this warship for service in the active fleet and know that we will be the finest ship on the waterfront.”
The ship was christened April 1, 2017 with Capt. Thomas Hudner in attendance. He passed away later last year on Nov. 13, 2017, at his home in Concord, Mass., and was interred at Arlington National Cemetery April 4, 2018, with full military honors.
The DDG 51-class ship is a multi-mission, guided-missile destroyer designed to operate in multi-threat air, surface and sub-surface threat environments. The class of ship provides combat capability and survivability characteristics, while minimizing procurement and lifetime support costs due to the program's maturity. The DDG 51 program continues to reinforce affordability and efficiency in its shipbuilding program with a commitment to deliver ships at the highest possible quality and to manage a seamless transition to the fleet.
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