Jackson County

He sacrificed himself to save fellow Marines. This Ingalls-built destroyer will carry his name.

Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114), USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119) and USS Paul Ignatius (DDG-117) under construction at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula on Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. The Ralph Johnson is about to set sail from Ingalls for Charleston, South Carolina, where it will be the latest Arleigh Burke-class destroyer commissioned into the U.S. Navy fleet on March 24.
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114), USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119) and USS Paul Ignatius (DDG-117) under construction at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula on Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. The Ralph Johnson is about to set sail from Ingalls for Charleston, South Carolina, where it will be the latest Arleigh Burke-class destroyer commissioned into the U.S. Navy fleet on March 24. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com file

The USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) set sail from Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula on Friday. The guided missile destroyer is headed to Charleston, South Carolina, where it will be the latest Arleigh Burke-class destroyer commissioned into the U.S. Navy on March 24.

The ship is named after Medal of Honor recipient Pfc. Ralph Henry Johnson, who was 19 in the midst of the Vietnam War when his 15-man reconnaissance patrol was attacked in Quan Duc Valley on March 5, 1968. With the battle enveloping the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, a hand grenade landed in the fighting hole Johnson shared with fellow Marines, according to Huntington Ingalls Industries. Johnson threw his body over the grenade, absorbing the full impact of the blast. He died instantly and was posthumously honored by President Richard Nixon in 1970.

The USS Ralph Johnson is equipped with the Aegis Baseline 9 combat system, allowing it to use Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) capability with Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) 5.0 and Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air.

The ship is the 64th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and 30th DDG 51 class destroyer built by HII, according to the Navy.

According to a release, the keel of Ralph Johnson was laid down in the fall of 2014. The ship was launched in Dec. 2015 and christened on April 2, 2016.

Following commissioning, the ship will make her way to homeport in Everett, Washington.

“My team had a key part in building this ship and the 113 and the 107 and the 105,” said Freddie Joe O’Brien, master shipbuilder who has worked at Ingalls for 46 years. “The responsibility and the feeling of pride is much, much different than it was back then.”

Medal of Honor recipient Private First Class Ralph Johnson is the namesake of the guided missile destroyer DDG 114. His courage inspiring valor and selfless devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2326, @PatrickOchs

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