Last week the U.S. Navy took delivery of the latest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119), from Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. This represents the official transfer of the ship from the shipbuilder to the Navy. Prior to the delivery, the ship had successfully conducted a series of at-sea and pier-side trials to demonstrate both its material and operational readiness.
Delbert D. Black had completed its acceptance trials last month in the Gulf of Mexico.
“DDG-119’s exceptional performance during these trials is a direct reflection of the teamwork between Ingalls Shipbuilding and the Navy,” Capt. Nathan Schneider, the Gulf Coast supervisor of shipbuilding, conversion, and repair, said in a statement as reported by USNI News. “I am proud of this ship and I am extremely proud of the Ingalls Shipbuilding and Navy team that built her. Right behind DDG-119 are follow-on DDGs that will be even better, including the first Flight III DDG, which is a real game-changer.”
The new guided-missile destroyer was launched in September 2017 and was set to be commissioned in 2019, but it was damaged a year ago when a Norwegian-flagged vessel struck a barge, which subsequently struck the then-unfinished Delbert D. Black. The Norwegian heavy-lift ship M/V Hawk had been delivering a floating dry dock to Pascagoula from Qingdao, China.
While there were only minor injuries, which were treated at the scene by Ingalls’ medical personnel, the warship took on water, which had delayed its production.
It is the 68th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer to enter service with the U.S. Navy, and it honors Delbert D. Black, the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy. Black, who served 30 years in the Navy, was a World War II Navy veteran. He was a gunner’s mate aboard the battleship USS Maryland (BB 46) during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Black became the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy when in January 1967 he was appointed the first Senior Enlisted Advisor – a position that would be renamed to its current one. As the highest-ranking enlisted man, he served as a representative of the Chief of Naval Operations, and helped guide the Navy through the Vietnam War and ensured that enlisted leadership was properly represented.
DDG-119 is the first naval ship to bear his name. The ship’s motto is “Anchored in Arms.”
USS Delbert D. Black is equipped with the Aegis Baseline 9 Integrated Air and Missile Defense combat system, which has increased the computing power and features improved radar upgrades from the older Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.
The Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are noted for their multi-mission roles that include a peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection in support of U.S. military strategy. The guided-missile destroyers are capable of simultaneously fighting air, surface, and subsurface threats.
Huntington Ingalls currently has four other destroyers under construction, including the Flight IIA destroyers Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG-121) and the Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123), along with the Flight III destroyers Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125) and Ted Stevens (DDG-128). DDG-125 will be the first Flight III destroyer and the first built with Aegis Baseline 10.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.