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U.S. Navy Christens its Most Capable Destroyer Yet

jack h lucas
Courtesy USN

Published Mar 27, 2022 6:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Saturday, the U.S. Navy christened the destroyer USS Jack H. Lucas, the latest iteration of the long-running Arleigh Burke destroyer class. 

DDG-125 will be the 73rd Arleigh Burke manufactured since the first in the class was commissioned in 1991. As the backbone of the Navy's surface combatant fleet, they may be found deployed around the world, but this one is special: Jack H. Lucas is the first to be built with the AN/SPY-6 air and missile defense radar. This next-generation phased-array radar has been in development since 2013, and it has unusual capabilities. It is about 30 times more sensitive than the previous generation of radars for the Arleigh Burke, thanks to recently-developed gallium nitride semiconductor technology. However, it consumes about twice as much power as the previous AN/SPY-1, which means that the Navy had to design significant power-generation upgrades into the latest iteration of the Arleigh Burke class.

Jack H. Lucas is not only the most capable and sophisticated surface combatant ever built by man, but it also represents the bridge from the past to the future, as we bring a new radar, the Aegis Baseline 10, and a new electric plant onto an already highly capable platform,” said Chief of Naval Operations Mike Gilday at the christening ceremony. "Flight III represents the dedication and commitment of our sailors and civilians — the skill and innovation of our shipyards and industry partners — and the commitment of the American people to keep the seas free and open for all."

The ship is named after Jack H. Lucas, the youngest Marine and youngest service member in World War II awarded the Medal of Honor. During a close firefight with Japanese soldiers, Lucas saved the lives of three Marines when he threw himself on top of two grenades.

“This ship represents our nation’s strength, grit, tenacity, and is a tangible example of Lucas' legacy,” said Gilday.  “For a ship that aspires to shield our sailors and defend freedom, the name Jack H. Lucas is not only fitting, but a standard of bravery and toughness for which the ship, captain and crew will always strive.”

Jack H. Lucas is co-sponsored by Ruby Lucas, widow of the ship’s namesake, and Catherine B. Reynolds, chairman and CEO of the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation. Together, the two sponsors officially christened the ship and made remarks during the ceremony.

“May the Jack H. Lucas be indestructible, just like he was,” Ruby Lucas said. “This first of its kind ship is advanced in integrity, courage and commitment to serve our great country. Jack never ran from a fight, and I’m certain that all aboard his namesake will represent Jack with honor."