Future USS Frank E Petersen Jr DDG 121 Welcomes First Commanding Officer

27 April 2020
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VIRIN: 210115-N-N0831-0004
PENSACOLA, Fla. – Cmdr. Daniel Hancock assumed command of the Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU), or future USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG 121) during a ceremony at the National Naval Aviation Museum onboard Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, Sept. 27.

“Command of a warship carries incredible authority and responsibility for the commanding officer, so much so that the chief of naval operations is explicit in his expectations of those who hold command in the United States Navy and this underscores the significance of this ceremony,” said Capt. Adolfo H. Ibarra, director, Commander’s Action Group, Naval Surface Force Atlantic, and Hancock’s presiding officer. “Command is the foundation of which our Navy rests. Authority, responsibility and accountability are three essential principles that are at the heart of soul of command. Effective command is at risk if any of these principles are lacking or are out of balance. Command is a privilege bestowed on a select group of officers. It is also the most solemn a naval officer will ever undertake. Despite this absolute and awesome responsibility, it is a coveted positon and definitely well earned by Cmdr. Hancock.”

Hancock is the first commanding officer of the USS Frank E. Petersen Jr., currently under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

The future USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. is a guided-missile destroyer that weighs almost 9,300 tons, is 510 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 65.5 feet and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.

The ship is named in honor of Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen Jr., the first African American Marine Corps aviator and the first African American Marine Corps officer promoted to brigadier general. When he retired in 1988 after 38 years of service, he was by date of designation, the senior-ranking aviator in the Marine Corps and the United States Navy.

The ceremony’s location has a special meaning and significance for Hancock. Marine Corps Maj. Daniel Iverson Jr., Hancock’s great uncle and his namesake, was awarded the Navy Cross and Silver Star for heroism in the Pacific during the Battle of Midway, and Hancock assumed command in front of his great uncle’s plane.

Iverson flew one of the famous 16 Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless, a World War II American naval scout plane and dive bomber that initiated the first attack on the Japanese fleet approaching USS Midway in June 1942. Eight planes were shot down in the battle. First Lt. Iverson flew back to Midway following the battle, landing his severely damaged plane on one wheel with 219 bullet holes. The plane was patched and returned to the U.S., where it was used for training until crashing into Lake Michigan. The plane was later recovered, restored and now is on display at the National Naval Aviation Museum.

“Maj. Daniel Iverson Jr.–Dan or Danny as his friends and Marines called him–is my namesake -and my inspiration for joining the service,” shared Hancock. “He is also a bona fide American hero. I could spend all day beaming with pride and reading his citations to you, but I’ll simply say this: He typified the ‘greatest generation!’”

The USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. will be configured as a Flight IIA destroyer, which enables power projection, forward presence and escort operations at sea in support of low-intensity conflict/coastal and littoral offshore warfare, as well as open ocean conflict.

“I have been given absolute responsibility,” said Hancock. “While I can push authority down the chain of command and delegate it, I can never shirk the absolute responsibility of command and the accountability it demands. I am grateful for this opportunity, humbled by the burden, and committed to the cause in front of me. To my officers, chiefs and Sailors, I am ready to lead you and serve alongside you. I promise you my best because you deserve it. You represent the best of the republic and I am honored to sail with you as a team. You are helping me form the culture of the most lethal warship ever created. DDG 121 is built for the near-peer, high end, Great Power Competition fight. We have to be ready for war today, and together, we will be ready to conduct combat operations anywhere, anytime.”

In closing remarks, Hancock shared motivational words of wisdom with his crew.

“Treat each other with respect and let’s remember the ‘Golden Rule’– take care of the ship and she will take care of all of us. We will sail fast, shoot straight and speak truth. Remember, ‘Frank’ owns the fight. Let’s get her to sea! It is the honor of my lifetime to be your captain.”

For more news from Naval Surface Forces, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnsp/.
 
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