Christening ceremony
A Navy rifle team at the christening ceremony for the future USS. Jack H. Lucas. Image from video

The Navy on Saturday christened its 73rd Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, a 9,500-ton warship named for a World War II Marine hero and headed to San Diego.

The future USS Jack H. Lucas honors a 17-year-old private who fell on two grenades during the Iwo Jima campaign to protect nearby Marines. Lucas survived the blasts, received the Medal of Honor and lived until 2008.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday delivered the principal address as the christening took place at Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding on the Gulf of Mexico in Pascagoula, MS.

In a time-honored Navy tradition, the ship’s sponsors, Lucas’ widow Ruby Lucas and nonprofit leader Catherine B. Reynolds, christened the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow.

“The future USS Jack H. Lucas will serve as a constant reminder of the immense impact actions taken by any one Sailor or Marine can truly have,” said Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro. “Private First Class Lucas is a national hero and this ship and crew will honor his legacy for decades to come.”

The ship is the first of 20 advanced “Flight III” destroyers under contract. Among the upgrades compared to previous Arleigh Burke destroyers is special radar to allow the ship to shoot down ballistic missiles.

The destroyers are armed with a 5″ main canon, anti-antiaircraft guns, 96 missiles of various types in vertical launch tubes, torpedoes and two helicopters.

Chris Jennewein

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