DDG 107 Gravely
DDG-107, laid down on 26 November 2007, is named in honor of Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely. DDG-107 Gravely is a Flight IIA variant of the Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer and incorporates a helicopter hanger facility into the original design. The ship can each carry two SH-60B/R helicopters. Guided missile destroyers operate independently and in conjunction with carrier strike groups, surface action groups, expeditionary strike groups and replenishment groups.
The Navy's newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, USS Gravely (DDG 107) was commissioned in Wilmington, N.C., 20 November 2010. "This warship is now ready to serve our great nation and carry on the example of a great American, a great man, and a great naval officer, Vice Adm. Samuel L. Gravely. A surface warrior and a man who accomplished many firsts in his 38 years of service," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead in the ceremony's principal address. While visiting Wilmington, Gravely Sailors were busy meeting the community before the commissioning. Sailors visited local hospitals, senior centers and schools and helped beautify an Army National Guard memorial. Locals took advantage of the more than 3,000 free tours of the ship the Sailors offered. A crowd of approximately 4,000 attended the commissioning ceremony held at North Carolina State Ports in Wilmington. Many in attendance were family and friends of USS Gravely's crew, while others were friends and family of Gravely himself, including veterans who served with him on the USS Taussig and his widow, the ship's sponsor, Alma Gravely.
When warships are formally commissioned In the U.S. Navy, they are given the title USS, an abbreviation for United States Ship. Prior to the commissioning ceremony, the vessel's title is PCU, which stands for Pre-commissioning Unit. Therefore, until DDG-107 is commissioned, its formal title is PCU Gravely . Once commissioned, the title changed to USS Gravely. The titles given to sea going vessels is a deep rooted tradition and for merchant ships in particular, the title can allude to the type of vessel. An example is SS Neptune where the "SS" stands for Steam Ship. Another common title for merchant ships is MV for Motor Vessel. British warships are entitled HMS for "Her Majesties Ship." Similarly, Australian warships are entitled HMAS for "Her Majesties Australian Ship." The term PCU, or simply "Precom Unit" or "Unit," is also used to refer to the Pre-commissioning Unit administration support facility. The PCU support facility houses the offices for the crews of each PCU being constructed . For the purposes of the entire Pre-commissioning process, think of the "Precom Unit" or "PCU" as the actual ship.
Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr.
DDG 107 honors Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. (1922-2004, Retired, 1980), the first African American Admiral and a "Man of Many Firsts". Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr.'s service in the United States Navy adds to many other great Americans whose personal achievements blazed the trail for others to follow.
Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. was a native of Richmond, Va. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha at Virginia Union University, the first inter-collegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African-Americans. He spent two years at Virginia Union University before beginning his Naval career when he enlisted in the Naval Reserves on Sept. 15, 1942, and was trained as a Fireman Apprentice at the Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, Illinois. In 1943, he participated in the Navy V-12 program, which was designed to select and train Naval officers. As part of this training, he attended the University of California in Los Angeles, Pre-Midshipman School in New Jersey, and Midshipmen School at Columbia University.
On Dec. 14, 1944, Gravely successfully completed midshipman training, becoming the first African-American commissioned as an officer from the Navy Reserve Officer Training Course. Gravely served in a variety of sea and shore assignments. As a newly commissioned Ensign, his first assignment was to Camp Robert Smalls, Great Lakes, Ill., as the Assistant Battalion Commander for new recruits. He began his seagoing career as a sailor aboard the USS PC-1264, a submarine chaser that was one of only two World War II ships with a largely African-American crew.
In April 1946, he was released from active duty, but he remained in the Naval Reserve. He subsequently returned to Richmond, VA completing his bachelor's degree in History from Virginia Union University. Recalled to active duty in 1949, his initial assignment was as a Navy recruiter, recruiting African-Americans. As an integral part of the Navy's response to President Truman's Executive Order to desegregate the Armed Services, he was a Navy recruiter at the Naval Recruiting Station and Officer Procurement, Washington DC. He went on to build a Navy career that lasted 38 years and included many distinguished accomplishments.
He became the first African-American to command a Navy ship when he assumed command of the USS Theodore E. Chandler (DD-717) on Jan. 31, 1961. He was also the first African-American to command an American warship under combat conditions, the USS Taussig DDG-746. He was the Commanding Officer on USS Falgout (DER-324), and he later commanded the USS Jouett DLG/CG 29. He became the first African American Admiral. Significantly, Gravely became the first African-American to rise to the rank of Vice Admiral on July 1, 1972, and was the first African-American to serve as a fleet commander, when he became Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet. His last tour of duty before retiring on 01 August 1980, was as Director of the Defense Communications Agency in Washington, overseeing the communications network linking Washington with American and allies bases worldwide.
Gravely was highly decorated, with decorations including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and Navy Commendation Medal. He died at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on October 22, 2004, after suffering a stroke. He was survived by his wife Alma, two children, David and Tracey and two brothers, Edward and Robert. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. In his honor, the USS Gravely (DDG-107), and a street on the east side of Richmond, Va., are named after him.
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