BATH, Maine -- The keel of the future USS John Basilone (DDG 122) was ceremoniously laid at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard, Jan. 10.
Speakers at the ceremony included Capt. Seth Miller, DDG 51 class program manager, Diane Hawkins, niece of the ship's namesake, and the ship's sponsors, Amy Looney and Ryan Manion.
The ship's sponsors authenticated the keel by etching their initials into the keel plate, a tradition that symbolically recognizes the joining ofmodular components and the ceremonial beginning of the ship.
"It's an honor to celebrate this milestone with Ms. Looney, Ms. Manion, and members of the Basilone family," said Miller. "Laying the keel for our nation's 72nd Arleigh Burke destroyer, and building a ship named for a man who embodied the spirit of commitment and strength, this is a truly special occasion."
The ship's namesake was a United States Marine Corps gunnery sergeant who was killed in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima in WWII. Basilone received the Medal of Honor for heroism displayed in the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942, and for conspicuous gallantry displayed in the Battle of Iwo Jima, after he single-handedly destroyed an enemy blockhouse and led a Marine tank under fire safely through a minefield.
Arleigh Burke class destroyers are multi-mission surface combatants that serve as integral assets in global maritime security, engaging in air, undersea, surface, strike and ballistic missile defense, as well as providing increased capabilities in anti-submarine warfare, command and control, and anti-surface warfare.
As a Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, John Basilone will employ the Aegis Baseline 9 Combat System, which includes Integrated Air and Missile Defense capability, delivers quick reaction time, high firepower, and has increased electronic countermeasures capability for Anti-Air Warfare.
In addition to John Basilone, BIW has four additional Arleigh Burke class destroyers under construction - Daniel Inouye (DDG 118), Carl M. Levin (DDG 120), Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (DDG 124) and Patrick Gallagher (DDG 127), as well as the Zumwalt class destroyer Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002). BIW is under contract for an additional six Arleigh Burke class destroyers that will all be constructed in the Flight III configuration with enhanced Air and Missile Defense capabilities.
As one of the Defense Department's largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, boats and craft.