Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to speak at destroyer christening

Published 5:58 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will speak Saturday at the christening of the guided missile destroyer Dewey at the Northrop Grumman shipyard in Pascagoula.

Mullen’s wife, Deborah M. Mullen, the ship’s sponsor, will break a bottle of champagne across the ship’s bow.

Others scheduled to attend are U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss; Gordon England, deputy secretary of defense; and Ronald D. Sugar, Northrop Grumman’s chairman and CEO.

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Dewey honors Adm. George Dewey, best known for his victory at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War.

Dewey was born in Montpelier, Vt., Dec. 26, 1837, and he graduated from the Naval Academy in 1858. On April 27, 1898, he sailed from China with orders to attack the Spanish at Manila Bay, Philippines. He stopped at the mouth of the bay late the night of April 30, and the following morning he gave the order to attack at first light, saying the now famous words: “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.”

Within six hours, on May 1, he had sunk or captured the entire Spanish Pacific fleet and silenced the shore batteries at Manila without any American lives lost from enemy fire.

Dewey returned to America to a hero’s welcome, and by act of Congress was made Admiral of the Navy in 1899, with the stipulation that when the office became vacant, it would cease to exist, making Dewey the only Admiral of the Navy.

A special military decoration, the Dewey Medal, was also named in his honor. Dewey died in Washington, D.C., Jan. 16, 1917, still on active duty.

The Dewey, designated DDG 105, is the third U.S. Navy Ship to be named after Dewey. The first Dewey was a Farragut-class destroyer, launched in 1934 and struck in 1945. The second Dewey (DDG-45) was a Farragut (1958)-class guided missile destroyer, launched in 1958 and struck in 1992.

DDG 105 is the 26th destroyer to be launched and christened of 28 contracted to Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. The company’s first 24 Aegis destroyers have been transferred to the Navy. Two additional ships, now in construction at Ship Systems’ Pascagoula Operations, will follow DDG 105 into service.

Cmdr. Warren R. Buller of Concord, Mass., is the prospective commanding officer of the ship and will lead the crew of 292 officers and enlisted personnel.