The Navy will commission the newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, Spruance, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, during a 6:30 p.m. EDT ceremony at Naval Air Station Key West, Fla.
Designated DDG 111, the new destroyer honors legendary Adm. Raymond Spruance, whose calm and decisive leadership at the Battle of Midway contributed to a pivotal American victory during World War II.
Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mark E. Ferguson III will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Ellen Spruance Holscher, granddaughter of the ship’s namesake will serve as the sponsor. The ceremony will be highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when she gives the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”
Born in Baltimore, July 3, 1886, Spruance graduated from the Naval Academy in 1906. His Navy career was extensive, including command of five destroyers and the battleship Mississippi. Spruance led Task Force 16, with two aircraft carriers, during the 1942 Battle of Midway, where his disposition of forces and management of aircraft was crucial to a victory that is regarded as the turning point in the Pacific war with Japan. He later directed campaigns that captured the Gilberts, Marshalls, Marianas, Iwo Jima and Okinawa and defeated the Japanese fleet in the 1944 Battle of Philippine Sea. After commanding the Pacific Fleet in 1945-46, Spruance served as president of the Naval War College until retiring in 1948. In 1952-55, he was ambassador to the Philippines. Spruance died at Pebble Beach, Calif., Dec. 13, 1969.
Spruance, the 61st Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. Spruance will contain myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare and be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously.
The ship will be the second ship named for Spruance. The first USS Spruance (DD 963) was the lead ship of Spruance class destroyers serving from 1973 to 2005.
Cmdr. Tate Westbrook, a native of Murfreesboro, Tenn., will become the first commanding officer of the ship and will lead a crew of 285 officers and enlisted personnel. The 9,200-ton Spruance was built by Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. The 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.