The first of a new line of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers (DDG-51) commissioned in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in a ceremony on Saturday.
The Huntington Ingalls Industries-built USS John Finn (DDG-113) joined the fleet in a ceremony marked by a speech from U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris.
“John Finn brings both the saber and the shield into the fight,” Harris said during the ceremony. “Truly, the advanced combat systems, coupled with the innovative spirit and the killer instinct of her amazing crew, are powerful reminders of our readiness to fight tonight. This warship is the embodiment of America’s resolve to protect our homeland and defend our allies.”
Laura Stavridis – wife of retired Adm. James Stavridis, who chairs the U.S. Naval Institute board – serves as the ship’s sponsor.
The Flight IIA Finn fields an upgraded version of Aegis Baseline 9 that will allow the ship to perform traditional air warfare and ballistic-missile defense missions simultaneously.
The ship completed acceptance trails in November and delivered in December.
The 9,000-ton Finn is the first Burke to commission since USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112) in 2012. The Navy saw a production gap in the program, which concluded with DDG-112 but was restarted when then-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates ordered four guided-missile destroyers in 2008 after the cancelation of the Navy’s next-generation guided-missile cruiser program (CG(X)) and the trimming of the Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer program (DDG-1000) to three ships.
The next three ships in the restart class are set to commission within the next year. The General Dynamics Bath Iron Works-built Rafael Peralta (DDG-115) delivered in February and set to commission later this year.
Following the restart quartet, the Navy awarded a nine-ship multi-year contract in 2013 worth $6.1 billion to HII and BIW, which later grew to ten ships.
Both yards are planning to install upgraded AN/SPY-6(V) air search radar and combat system in a Flight III variant of the Burkes.
The destroyer is named after John William Finn, who earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II.
“During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, on 7 December 1941, Lt. Finn promptly secured and manned a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machine gun strafing fire,” reads Finn’s Medal of Honor citation.
“Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy’s fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety.”
Finn died in 2010. He was 100.