Secretary of Navy Holds Ship-Naming Ceremony at USS Constitution

Secretary of Navy Holds Ship-Naming Ceremony at USS Constitution

Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus held a ship-naming ceremony at USS Constitution in Charlestown, Mass., May 22.

Mabus announced the next Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, DDG 116, will be named after Medal of Honor recipient retired Navy Capt. Thomas Hudner Jr.

“The USS Thomas Hudner will ensure that future generations of Sailors and Marines, future generations of Americans, and people all around the world who see or come in contact with the USS Hudner will know about the extraordinary efforts of her namesake,” said Mabus.

The ceremony took place next to Constitution at approximately 11 a.m. and concluded at 11:30 a.m. with Hudner and his family in attendance.

“It makes me very proud that the ship and the name are going to represent everybody in the Navy,” said Hudner. “It’s really hard to describe. I just hope she also makes the Navy proud and will have a good reputation.”

Hudner, a naval aviator, received the Medal of Honor from then-President Harry S. Truman for displaying uncommon valor during an attack on his wingman, the first African American naval aviator to fly in combat, Ensign Jesse L. Brown. During the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War, anti-aircraft fire hit Brown’s aircraft, damaging a fuel line and causing him to crash. After it became clear Brown was seriously injured and unable to free himself, Hudner proceeded to purposefully crash his own aircraft to join Brown and provide aid. Hudner injured his back during his crash landing, but he stayed with Brown until a rescue helicopter arrived. Hudner and the rescue pilot worked in the sub-zero, snow-laden area in an unsuccessful attempt to free Brown from the smoking wreckage.

Hudner is the last living Navy recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Korean War and a Massachusetts native.

“It is such a privilege to host Secretary Mabus and Capt. Hudner at Constitution for the ship-naming ceremony of the Navy’s newest destroyer,” said Cmdr. Matt Bonner, Constitution’s 72nd commanding officer. “Capt. Hudner has done so much in service to his country, both in and out of uniform, and I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this honor. I know that his spirit of service, sacrifice and leadership will be well-represented in the ship that bears his name.”

Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year. She defended the sea lanes against threat from 1797 to 1855, much like the mission of today’s Navy. America’s Navy: Keeping the sea free for more than 200 years.

Constitution’s mission today is to offer community outreach and education about the ship’s history. Currently, her crew is planning to commemorate bicentennial of the War of 1812 through public demonstrations and educational activities at eight Navy weeks across the U.S. in 2012.

Naval Today Staff , May 23, 2012; Image: US Navy