In a traditional U.S. Navy ceremony, the $1 billion William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), being built by the Northrop Grumman Corporation was christened in front of more than 2,000 guests April 17 at Pascagoula, Mississippi. The William P. Lawrence is the 60th of the Arleigh Burke-class of destroyers and the 28th built by Northrop Grumman.
DDG 110 honors the late Vice Admiral William P. Lawrence, who was a naval aviator. As commanding officer of Fighter Squadron 143, he earned the Silver Star for a strike against a heavily defended target in North Vietnam. Completing his mission, he was captured after his aircraft was shot down. He remained a POW from June 1967 until March 1973 in North Vietnam before resuming a military career that included superintendent of the Naval Academy and command of the Third Fleet in the Pacific.
Texas businessman and former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot, who attended the Naval Academy with Vice Admiral Lawrence, delivered the principal address.
“He lived Winston Churchill’s shortest speech — never give in,” Perot said. “I can’t think of a more appropriate motto for the USS William P. Lawrence. I know that all of you who are building this ship will continue to set the highest standards of leadership and integrity, and the crew that comes aboard will also do the same.”
Rear Admiral William Landay III, Program Executive Officer, Ships added, “The United States Navy is the preeminent naval power in the world because of the powerful combination and remarkable abilities of the American sailor and the American shipbuilder.”
Ship sponsors Diane Wilcox Lawrence, widow of Vice Admiral Lawrence, and Vice Admiral Lawrence’s daughters, Laurie Macpherson Lawrence and retired U.S. Navy Captain Wendy B. Lawrence, christened the ship by simultaneously breaking champagne bottles across its bow.
“Sail with the honor of the man whose name you bear,” all three sponsors said in unison.
U.S. Navy Commander Tom Williams is the prospective commanding officer and will lead the crew of 276 officers and enlisted personnel. The 9,200-ton ship is 509 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.
DDG 110 will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. It officially becomes the USS William P. Lawrence after it is turned over to the Navy late this year.