BOSTON (NNS) -- The fourth ship in the Navy's history named in honor of Rear Adm. William T. Sampson, USS Sampson (DDG 102), was commissioned Nov. 3 at Massport's Black Falcon Cruise Ship Terminal with more than a thousand spectators in attendance braving the wind and rain.
The new Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, built at the Bath Iron Works in Maine, was the first ship in five years commissioned in Boston. Sampson's last assignment in the Navy was commander of the Boston Navy Yard, and all four destroyers named in his honor have been commissioned in this historic harbor.
Sampson's commissioning officially began with the traditional 19-gun salute by the oldest field artillery regiment in the nation, 1-101st Field Artillery Battalion, Massachusetts Army National Guard.
The salute honored Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who was the senior platform guest at the commissioning.
"It was right here in our beloved Massachusetts that the American Navy was born," said Kerry.
Kerry later remarked that the Sampson's legacy would be defined by her commander and crew.
Vice Adm. Terry Etnyre, commander Naval Surface Forces, like other platform guests shortened his remarks given the blustery weather, but he made sure that he challenged the crew during his comments.
"Be ready!" Etnyre told the crew of Sampson. "Be ready to carry out the missions, and to do our country's bidding."
The ceremony's principal guest speaker was Vice Adm. William D. Sullivan, the military representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Sixteen years ago, then-commander Sullivan decommissioned USS Sampson (DDG 10), the ship he commanded during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Wilmington, N.C., resident Clare Parsons is the ship's sponsor. She is a retired commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves and her great-grandfather was William T. Sampson. Parsons was on hand to give the order to bring the ship to life, a time-honored Navy tradition. In addition to giving the command to bring the ship to life, Parsons also sang a solo, "O Master Let Me Walk with Thee," with Navy Band Northeast providing musical accompaniment.
Sampson was the commander of the U.S. blockading and North Atlantic squadrons during the Spanish-American War of 1898. During the war with Spain, Sampson was in charge of the North Atlantic and conducted the blockade of Cuba, whereby the ships under his command completely destroyed the Spanish vessels of Spanish Adm. Pasqual Cervera as they attempted to escape from the harbor of Santiago.
Cmdr. Philip Roos, the commissioning commanding officer of Sampson concluded the ceremony with remarks about his amazing crew.
"Unmanned, you'd think that Sampson was just a piece of equipment, only brought to life by the spirit, energy, and professionalism of her crew," said Roos.
Roos thanked the Sampson crew for their many hours of hard work leading up to the commissioning and the many hours ahead.
Roos later remarked that Sampson lives through the hard work, dedication, and skill of the best shipbuilders in the country, Bath Iron Works and that it stands as a testament of superior New England workmanship.
Previous ships named Sampson were DD 63 (1916-1921), DD 394 (1938-1945) and DDG 10 (1960-1991).
The newest Sampson, which is 511 feet in length, 66 feet at its widest point, displaces 9,200 tons of water, and has a top speed in excess of 30 knots, will sail with 25 officers and 250 enlisted crew members aboard. The Sampson is expected to arrive in her home port of San Diego later this year.
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