Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding division will christen the company’s 33rd Arleigh Burke– class destroyer, Frank E Petersen Jr. (DDG 121), on Saturday. Former Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, Ret. Gen. Alfred Gray, is the ceremony’s keynote speaker. DDG 121 is being co-sponsored by Dr. Alicia Petersen, wife of the late Frank E. Petersen Jr., and Mrs. D’Arcy Neller, wife of General Robert Neller who serves as current Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.
DDG 121 honors Frank Emmanuel Petersen Jr., who was the Marine Corps’ first African-American aviator and general officer. After entering the Naval Aviation Cadet Program in 1950, Petersen would go on to fly more than 350 combat missions throughout the Korean and Vietnam wars. Petersen retired from the Marine Corps in 1988 after 38 years of service.
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are capable, multi-mission ships and can conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection, all in support of the United States’ military strategy. The guided missile destroyers are capable of simultaneously fighting air, surface and subsurface battles. The ship contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs well into the 21st century.