The future USS Ralph Jonson prior to its launch . Image from Huntington Ingalls video
The future USS Ralph Jonson prior to its launch. Image from Huntington Ingalls Industries video

The Navy on Saturday will christen its 64th Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, another new ship headed for San Diego as part of the service’s pivot to Asia.

Earlier this week the Navy announced that two other new destroyers, the USS Rafael Peralta and the USS John Finn, will also be assigned to Naval Base San Diego.

The future USS Ralph Johnson will be christened during a ceremony at Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, MS.

“The christening of the future USS Ralph Johnson represents yet another example of how our Navy’s partnership with the highly-skilled shipbuilders of our nation continues to help us grow our fleet,” said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. “Because of the hard work of these men and women, the name Ralph Johnson, and the heroism this name embodies, will live on for years to come in the steel of this great warship and the deeds of the sailors and Marines who sail aboard her.”

The ship is named for Marine Pfc. Ralph Henry Johnson, who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the Vietnam War. Johnson used his body to shield two fellow Marines from a grenade, absorbing the blast and dying instantly in March 1968.

The new ship is 509 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.

It is armed with 96 long-range missiles, two helicopters, a rapid-fire deck gun and a variety of anti-aircraft weapons.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.