SHIP CHRISTENING HONORS JOHN D. BULKELEY, NAVY HERO AND MEDAL
OF HONOR RECEPIENT WHOSE NAVAL SERVICE SPANNED 68 YEARS
By CDR Byron (Jug) Varner, U.S. Navy (RET)
PASCAGOULA, Miss., June 24, 2000 – “When this ship is commissioned next year, she will be a vessel of war,” former U. S. Senator Bob Dole of Kansas said here this morning, “and also a vessel of values…imbued with both firepower and moral power, in times of conflict and of peace.”
“This great ship is named for one great individual,” Dole said, “but it will brandish the spirit of an entire generation of Americans.”
Senator Dole, currently serving as chairman of a committee to raise funds and build a national World War II memorial, delivered the principal address during a patriotic, traditional maritime christening ceremony at Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding today, during which the U.S. Navy's newest Aegis guided missile destroyer, BULKELEY (DDG 84), was christened in honor of a true naval hero.
Some 1,000 guests heard Senator Dole call the ship's namesake, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Vice Admiral John Duncan Bulkeley, USN, (1911-1999), “a courageous warrior, an inspirational leader, and a fine human being. I am here as a World War II veteran, because this ceremony is about honoring John Bulkeley and all the real American heroes who served at that time. I don't believe there could be any better inspiration for a warship than Admiral Bulkeley,” Senator Dole said. “He, and the generation from whence he came, exemplified the Navy's badges of honor, courage and commitment — in the Second World War and beyond.”
U.S. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi accompanied his former colleague to Ingalls for Saturday's event. “This ship is being named ftrue Navy heroor a resourceful and courageous World War II combat veteran, Admiral John D. Bulkeley. It is very appropriate that the principal speaker on this occasion is also a World War II combat veteran, whose courage and sacrifice for our country during times of war, and whose thoughtful leadership in our nation's Capital, are well known and deeply appreciated,” said Senator Cochran.
Five Ship Sponsors smash bottles of champagne at Bulkeley's bow, christening the ship in a time- honored naval tradition.Three daughters of Vice Admiral Bulkeley, Joan Bulkeley Stade, of Oakbrook Ill.; Regina Bulkeley Day of York, Neb; Diana Bulkeley Lindsay, of Olney, Md.; daughter in-law Carol A. Bulkeley, of Virginia Beach, Va.; and Sarah C. Fargo, wife of Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, USN, Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet, Pearl Harbor, Hi., christened DDG 84 “in honor of Vice Admiral John Duncan Bulkeley, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, an outstanding leader of men, a gallant and intrepid seaman, and in the name of the United States of America.” Mrs. Hilda Alice Bulkeley, widow of Vice Admiral Bulkeley, and Carla Fargo, of Coronado, California, sister-in-law of Mrs. Fargo, were the ceremony's Matrons of Honor. Ingalls Shipbuilding photo.
Bulkeley was a PT boat pioneer who used his four-boat Squadron to evacuate General Douglas MacArthur and Philippine President Quezon from Corregidor and Bataan, Philippine Islands, in 1942. In command of Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB) Squadrons Three and Seven during the defense of the Philippines, Bulkeley evacuated the two high ranking officials while destroying several Japanese planes, surface combatants and merchant ships.
Promoted to Lieutenant Commander, he took part in the landings in the Trobiand Islands in July 1943. He then commanded PT boats patrolling the beaches during the Allied landings on Normandy in the Atlantic Theater of Operations. During the August 15, 1944, landing of General Alexander M. Patch's 7th ARMY by Admiral J. Kent Hewitt's Western Naval Task Force on the southern coast of France, Bulkeley, as Commanding Officer of the destroyer USS ENDICOTT, sank two German corvettes attempting to escape from the harbor at Toulon. About a dozen of Bulkeley's former ENDICOTT shipmates were at Ingalls for Saturday's christening.
Bulkeley remained in the Navy after the war, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral in June 1963 and was named Commander, Navy Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Several who served with him at Gitmo also attended the christening ceremonies here.
He became President of the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV), the team responsible for testing new ships before final acceptance into Fleet duty, in 1967, and served in that assignment for 21 years. He retired from active duty as a Vice Admiral in 1988.
Construction of DDG 84 began at Ingalls on May 25, 1998. The keel was laid May 10, 1999. When completed at the end of 2001, DDG 84 will home port in Norfolk, Va., assigned to the DDG 84. Ingalls Shipbuilding photo U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
Admiral Thomas Fargo, Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet, said Admiral Bulkeley has been an inspiration for all who follow and go down to the sea in ships. “He was a fearless leader for each of those 68 years of service to his country, whether he was guiding his men in the most dangerous combat conditions or ensuring the readiness of the ships for its sailors. For our country, there is no doubt that a ship which marries this awesome capability with the courage and commitment of John Bulkeley will be hugely beneficial to the security of our nation.”
Carolyn Howland Becraft, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Manpower & Reserve Affairs, also praised the leadership of Bulkeley, saying, “Vice Admiral Bulkeley was among the 'best of the best' in Navy leaders. This ship's officers and crewmembers have a fine tradition to uphold, and I know they will do it well.”
Vice Admiral Henry C. Giffin III, USN, Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, spoke of the importance of Aegis destroyers to the Navy's fleet. “The investment we are making in this ship and ships of this class will help us ensure that DDG 84's motto, 'Freedom's Torch,' will continue to burn brightly in our country in the future,” he said. “Courage and standards of excellence were the trademarks of Admiral Bulkeley. For as long as this ship is in commission, her crew will carry the reputation of being ready to fight and the standard bearer of excellence.”
Rear Admiral William R. Schmidt, USN, who followed Bulkeley as the President, Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV), praised the dedication Bulkeley gave during his tenure as INSURV president, saying, “no name, in the 132-year history of INSURV is more revered than Admiral John Bulkeley…a true naval legend. His motivation and driving force as president was the well-being and the safety of our sailors, as well as ensuring that our ships were ready for sustained combat at any time This is the legacy that Vice Admiral John Bulkeley left us.”
Rear Admiral William W. Cobb Jr., USN, Program Executive Officer, Theater Surface Combatants, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, said the most important thing about the Navy's newest Aegis destroyer is the crew that will sail her into fleet duty. “Our Navy is far greater because of Admiral Bulkeley's 21 years on the Board of Inspection and Survey,” he added.
Rear Admiral John M. Kelly, USN, Director, Theater Air Warfare, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, said the christening passes Admiral Bulkeley's spirit on to the Navy's newest capital ship. “This ship when deployed will provide the critical forward presence needed to execute our national strategy around the world, an Aegis ship equipped with the finest combat system at sea anywhere in the world today,” said Admiral Kelly. “Thanks to Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding for building a world class, capital ship, a fast ship, ready to go 'In Harm's Way,' a ship worthy of the name 'destroyer'.”
Captain Harry Rucker Jr., USN, Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair, Pascagoula, called the christening “a great Navy day and a fine day to name a front line surface combatant after one of the nation's finest heroes.”
“In some way every surface ship in the Navy Fleet today has Admiral John Bulkeley's fingerprints,” said Jerry St. Pé, Chief Operating Officer of Litton Ship Systems and Executive Vice President of Litton Industries. “So it is only fitting that the Navy decided to build a ship that also bears the Bulkeley name. The Navy also knew that any ship that was going to carry the name of John Bulkeley had to be built to the absolute highest possible standards. And I can tell you they selected precisely the right shipyard to do that. And we thank the Navy and we are proud of the challenge.”
“Admiral Bulkeley always expected, demanded — and got, the best in every ship he and his INSURV team accepted for the Navy,” said Ingalls President Pat Keene. “We at Ingalls have been building quality into Aegis ships for more than two decades and we continue to enhance a reputation of making each ship in its class better than the previous one.”