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This ceremony marks the first christening of a Flight III Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer.
The ship is named in honor of Private First Class Jacklyn Harold “Jack” Lucas, who served as a U.S. Marine during World War II and was awarded the Medal of Honor at the age of 17. Private First Class Lucas earned the award during the Iwo Jima campaign, when he hurled himself on two grenades in order to absorb the explosion with his own body and protect his fellow Marines. Lucas survived and lived until June 5, 2008, when he passed away after a battle with cancer.
“This ship represents our nation’s strength, grit, tenacity, and is a tangible example of Lucas' legacy,” said Gilday. “For a ship that aspires to shield our Sailors and defend freedom, the name Jack H. Lucas is not only fitting, but a standard of bravery and toughness for which the ship, captain and crew will always strive.”
Gilday explained destroyers are multi-mission warships, built around its state-of-the-art Aegis Combat System. The Navy has continued to build upon this platform as the Father of Aegis, Admiral Wayne E. Meyer would have preferred, by continuing to “Build a Little, Test a Little, Learn a Lot,” with each successive flight upgrade.
The Flight III upgrade is centered on the AN/SPY-6(V)1 Air and Missile Defense Radar and incorporates upgrades to the electrical power and cooling capacity, as well as additional changes that enhance warfighting capabilities.
“Such advances would not be possible without the ship builders of Ingalls Shipbuilding and the people of Pascagoula,” said Gilday. “You have built the finest destroyer in the world, our job now is to get the crew ready, trained, qualified and out-to-sea for tasking.”
In a time-honored Navy tradition, the ship’s sponsors, Ms. Ruby Lucas and Ms. Catherine B. Reynolds christened the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow.
The Honorable Meredith Berger, Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary of the Navy gave remarks at the ceremony, as well as Major General Jason Bohm, Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruiting Command; and Ms. Kari Wilkinson, President of Ingalls Shipbuilding; Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, and Mississippi Fourth District Representative Steven Palazzo.
“The future USS Jack H. Lucas represents pride, patriotism and love for this country,” said Berger. “His legacy carries on through his family, his friends, and the Sailors who will sail this future ship and lead the Nation in warfighting excellence.”
The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers are multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting Anti-Air Warfare (AAW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW). Destroyers play a significant role in strike warfare. DDG 125 is the first ship built in the Flight III configuration, which will provide significantly enhanced anti-air warfare capability. Flight III is the fourth Flight upgrade in the 30+ year history of the class, building on the proud legacy of Flight I, II and IIA ships before it.