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Secretary of the Navy honors Naval Heroes

NAVSEA News Wire

Release Date: 5/7/2004

By United States Department of Defense

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of the Navy Gordon England has selected names for five new U.S. Navy destroyers honoring legendary American naval heroes. The new Arleigh Burke class, Aegis guided missile destroyers will bear the names of leaders from the early American Navy and those who led the Navy to victory in the Battle of Manila Bay and the Spanish-American War.

The ships named include:

DDG hull number 101 will be named Gridley, and honors Capt. Charles V. Gridley, U.S. Navy, (1844-1898), who commanded the cruiser Olympia at the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Despite being terminally ill, Gridley insisted on retaining command of the Olympia as war loomed with Spain. Admiral Dewey's simple phrase permitting him to open fire at Manila Bay, "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley," remains a famous moment in American naval tradition. During his voyage home, Gridley died in Kobe, Japan, less than a month after the victory at Manila Bay and relinquishing command of the Olympia. Three previous ships have been named in honor of Gridley: Destroyer No. 92, DD 380 and DLG 21, later CG 21.

DDG hull number 102 will be named Sampson, and commemorates the service of William Thomas Sampson (1840-1902) who graduated first in his class at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1861. During his service in the Civil War, Sampson survived a mine explosion in 1865. He went on to serve aboard four ships. When the United States declared war against Spain following the sinking of the battleship Maine, Rear Adm. Sampson, in flagship New York, put to sea from Key West in 1898 in search of the Spanish Fleet. They established a blockade of the Spanish Fleet in the harbor of Santiago. When the Spanish fleet attempted escape, it was completely destroyed by Sampson's forces in a running sea battle lasting five hours. The next day, Sampson sent his famous message: "The Fleet under my command offers the nation as a Fourth of July present, the whole of Cervera's Fleet!" After the war, he commanded the North Atlantic Fleet and later retired as commandant of the Boston Navy Yard in 1902. Three previous ships have carried this name: DD 63, DD 394 and DDG 10.

DDG hull number 103 will be named Truxtun, and honors Commodore Thomas Truxtun (1755-1822) who embarked upon a seafaring career at age 12. At age 16, he was pressed into service in the Royal Navy. By the time he was 20, he had risen to command of Andrew Caldwell, bringing large quantities of gunpowder into Philadelphia in 1775. He signed on as a lieutenant onboard the Congress, the first privateer to be fitted out for service against Great Britain, and in 1776-77 participated in the capture of many prizes. Successively, he commanded Independence, Commerce and St. James. At a dinner in Truxtun's honor, George Washington declared his services had been worth those of a regiment. When the United States Navy was organized, he was selected as one of its first six captains on June 4, 1798. He was assigned command of the Constellation, one of the new frigates, and he put to sea immediately to prosecute the undeclared naval war with revolutionary France. On Feb. 9, 1799, Truxtun scored the first of his two most famous victories. After an hour's fight, Constellation battered the French warship L'Insurgente into submission in one of the most illustrious battles of the Quasi-War with France. Truxtun retired from the Navy as a commodore and has had three previous ships carry his name: DD 14, DD 229 and CGN-35.

DDG hull number 104 will be named Sterett, and honors Andrew Sterett (1760-1807), appointed lieutenant in the United States Navy in 1798 and assigned to Constellation as Third Lieutenant. During the Quasi-War with France, he served with Capt. Thomas Truxton onboard Constellation, capturing the French frigate L'Insurgente in 1799. By 1800, he had risen to first lieutenant. He was soon given command of the schooner Enterprise. In June 1801, he sailed Enterprise from Baltimore to serve with the Mediterranean Squadron and captured a 14-gun Tripolitan cruiser and her 80-man crew during the Barbary Wars. Sterett continued his Navy career until he resigned his commission in 1805. Three previous ships have carried this name: DD 27, DD 407 and CG 31.

DDG hull number 105 will be named Dewey, and honors Adm. George Dewey (1837-1917) who commanded the Asiatic Station from the cruiser Olympia. Shortly after the onset of the Spanish-American War, Dewey led his squadron of warships into Manila Bay on April 30, 1898. The next morning, his squadron destroyed the Spanish fleet in only two hours without a single American loss. In 1899, he was ordered to Washington, D.C. where he was designated president of the General Board. A widely popular hero of his day, Dewey was commissioned Adm. of the Navy, a rank created for him, in March 1903. He held this rank until his death in 1917. Three previous ships have proudly carried his name: DD 349, DDG 45 and DLG 14.

Each of these sophisticated, new warships is a Flight IIA variant of the Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer and incorporates a helicopter hanger facility into the original design. The ships 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.

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