New U.S. Destroyer Named John Basilone
In a ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Secretary of the U.S. Navy Ray Mabus has announced that the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, DDG 122, will be named John Basilone in honor of the Marine Corps gunnery sergeant and Medal of Honor recipient.
He was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Battle of Guadalcanal, and was the only enlisted Marine to receive both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross in World War II.
Basilone served three years in the United States Army with duty in the Philippines. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1940 and was deployed to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and then to Guadalcanal where, during the Battle for Henderson Field, his unit came under attack by a regiment of approximately 3,000 soldiers from the Japanese Sendai Division. On October 24, 1942, Japanese forces began a frontal attack using machine guns, grenades, and mortars against the American heavy machine guns. Basilone commanded two sections of machine guns that fought for the next two days until only Basilone and two other Marines were left standing.
Basilone moved an extra gun into position and maintained continual fire against the incoming Japanese forces. He then repaired and manned another machine gun, holding the defensive line until replacements arrived. As the battle went on, ammunition became critically low. Despite their supply lines having been cut off by enemies in the rear, Basilone fought through hostile ground to resupply his heavy machine gunners with urgently needed ammunition. When the last of it ran out shortly before dawn on the second day, Basilone held off the Japanese soldiers attacking his position using his pistol. By the end of the engagement, Japanese forces opposite their section of the line were virtually annihilated. During that time, Basilone had a machine gun on the go for three days and nights without sleep, rest, or food.
On the first day of the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945, Basilone was killed in action, after which he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism.
This is the second ship to be named for John Basilone. The first USS Basilone (DD/DDE-824) was a Gearing-class destroyer, decommissioned in 1977.
"It is a great honor to name this ship in recognition of John Basilone," said Mabus. "I have no doubt that all who serve aboard her will carry on the legacy of service and commitment exemplified by this Marine Corps hero."
This is the seventh ship Mabus has named honoring a Medal of Honor recipient. Others include John Finn (DDG 113), Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), Daniel Inouye (DDG 118), Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (DDG 124), and Woody Williams (T-ESB 4).
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers conduct a variety of operations from peacetime presence and crisis response to sea control and power projection. DDG 122 will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously, and will contain a combination of offensive and defensive weapon systems designed to support maritime warfare including integrated air and missile defense and vertical launch capabilities.
The ship will be constructed at Bath Iron Works, a division of General Dynamics in Maine and is expected to enter the Navy fleet in 2022. The ship will be 509 feet long, have a beam length of 59 feet and be capable of operating at speeds in excess of 30 knots.