BATH, Maine (NNS) -- The keel of the future USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115) was ceremoniously laid at the Bath Iron Works shipyard Oct. 30.
The ship's keel was authenticated by the mother, Rosa Maria Peralta and sisters, Karen Peralta and Icela Peralta Donald of ship namesake, Sgt. Rafael Peralta. Each authenticator etched their initials into the keel plate to symbolically recognize the joining of modular components and the ceremonial beginning of the ship.
"Sgt. Peralta was a hero whose bravery and selflessness will not be forgotten," said Capt. Mark Vandroff, DDG 51 class program manager, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. "It's an honor to be here with Sgt. Peralta's sisters and his mother who will serve as the ship sponsor to lay down the keel of the ship that will honor her son's memory."
The ship was named for Peralta as a result of actions occurring during what is known as the Second Battle of Fallujah. While clearing houses in Fallujah, Iraq, on Nov. 15, 2004 a Marine squad, including Peralta, entered a house where the enemy silently waited. The squad was instantly barraged with intense small arms fire.
The fire knocked Peralta to the ground and mortally wounded him. As the firefight continued, the fleeing enemy threw a fragmentation grenade into the building. Peralta absorbed most of the grenade's blast with his body, thus saving the lives of two fellow marines. Sergeant Peralta died from his wounds. In 2008 Peralta was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his extraordinary heroism.
The future USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115) is the third of 11 ships awarded as part of the DDG 51 program restart. The DDG 51 class provides outstanding combat capability and survivability characteristics while minimizing procurement and lifetime support costs, due to the program's maturity.
As one of the Defense Department's largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft. Currently, the majority of shipbuilding programs managed by PEO Ships are benefiting from serial production efficiencies, which are critical to delivering ships on cost and schedule.
For more news from Naval Sea Systems Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/navsea/.