Keel laid for warship honoring World War II Marine hero

| January 13, 2020

Gunnery Sgt. (then-Sgt.) John Basilone, of Raritan, N.J. was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in the face of a savage Japanese frontal attack one night on Guadalcanal while manning a key machine gun. Awarded in field by dispatch 12 April 1943. A Maine shipyard announced it has celebrated the keel laying of a future Navy guided-missile destroyer that honors his legacy. (National Archives)

BATH, Maine — A Maine shipyard announced it celebrated the keel laying of a future Navy guided-missile destroyer on Friday.

General Dynamics Bath Iron Works reached the milestone in the construction of the future John Basilone.

A keel laying ceremony is one of the major events in the life of a ship.

The ship’s sponsors and a BIW welder authenticated the keel by striking welding arcs onto the steel plate, the shipyard said.

The keel laying is a precursor to the final construction of the ship, testing and sea trials, the shipyard said.

The ship is named for Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone, who earned the Medal of Honor for bravery at the Battle of Guadalcanal and the Navy Cross at Iwo Jima, where he was killed.

He was the only enlisted Marine in World War II who received both decorations, the shipyard said.

Gunnery Sgt. Basilone has been featured on one of our Valor Fridays. It’s great to have adults in charge.
Hand salute. Ready, Two!

The entire article may be viewed here: Navy Times

Category: Marine Corps, Navy, Valor

Comments (33)

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  1. Cameron Kingsley says:

    Just like Arizona and Oklahoma, there hasn’t been a ship named after John Basilone in awhile (granted, no where near as long as the other two since it was decommissioned in 1977). Good on the Navy for resurrecting the name.

  2. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    Warships being named after valorous War Heroes, now maybe they can rename a few that were named after politicians?

    • OWB says:

      Got my vote.

    • AW1Ed says:

      A couple issues with that- if it was easy it would already have been done. To re-commission a ship it first must be de-commissioned, with all the associated rationale, paperwork and ass pain. And cost. Only then can it be re-commissioned, again with rationale, paperwork and ass pain. Also it’s considered bad luck to change a ship’s name. I’d like to see them renamed as much as anyone, but it ain’t going to happen.

      • 11B-Mailclerk says:

        Spirit of Arizona

        Arizona II

        You get the idea.

        • The Other Whitey says:

          I still say that any SINKEX target should be automatically renamed USS Ray Mabus.

          • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

            Except for when SINKEX Target SHips happen to be say, the USS Harvey Milk, Gabby Giffords or Cezar Chavez…

        • AW1Ed says:

          Doesn’t work that way- still have to go through the process. Care to guess how many “USS Enterprise” there were?

          These ships, USS Harvey Milk, Gabrielle Giffords, Sojourner Truth, Medgar Evers, Cesar Chavez, John Lewis. The names Ray Mabus saddled us with, are stuck. Knowing sailors as I do, I’m sure they all have some colorful nicknames.

          • 5th/77th FA says:

            I would say ‘Ed that you have got to be shitting me, but I know that you wouldn’t shit me, I’m one of your favorite turds. I must admit, I have not kept up with the names of too many of our surface fleet over the last few years. How many other ships do we have that are like these named above that have been named for someone with very little if not NO real connection to Naval/Marine Operations? Guess I could Google Foo Active Navy Ship Names? ?!?daHell!?

            BZ to whomever made a good choice in naming this newest Floating Artillery Platform for the Marine Hero Gunnery Sgt John Basilone!

            Gun Salute…Fire by the piece from right to left…PREPARE…COMMENCE FIRING!

            • AW1Ed says:

              Love you like a brother, 5/77, but damned if you can’t find my buttons to push.

              “…you wouldn’t shit me, I’m one of your favorite turds” is one.

              While the sentiment is appreciated, I really dislike the delivery.

              Sea Story Alert.

              AW1Ed was the Leading Petty Officer of a herd of AWs, from junior nugget AWANs (E-3) to AW2s (E-5) who knew everything. Or thought they did.

              Anyhoo, LTJG Youngster knocked on the AW shop door and asked if AWAN Twidget could go over the P-3 ESM system with him. AWAN Twidget said hell yes, he wouldn’t shit him, he’s one of his favorite turds.

              Time for AW1Ed to go all NCO.
              I apologized to the LTJG and asked him to return in a few minutes.

              I then grabbed AWAN T by the front of his flight suit, lifted him up about six inches from the deck and mentioned if he ever addressed an officer like that again in my presence I would reach down his throat, cinch him up by his asshole and turn him inside out.

              He was white as a sheet, and you could hear a pin drop in the shop.

              I then directed AWAN T to apologize to the LTJG and provide the training he requested.

              Oddly, the LTJG was nowhere to be found. Guess he had some other place to be.

              AWAN T actually turned out to be one of our better young air crewman.

              • 5th/77th FA says:

                ^word^ And now we know. Hadn’t heard that sea story, we’ll put that button in the “Do not push mode.” Glad I found out this way, instead of how the other dumbass did. No foul intended.

                So who makes the decision on naming Ships of the Line, and what would be the criteria? I was vaguely aware of the Milk, mainly from a comment made on TAH, same as the Giffords. I just gave it a passing note, hey they were gubmint lackeys & 1 was dead. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that any of our ships should have a name of someone that has made a contribution to Naval Warfare, not a political statement. Out of the what, 300 some odd we have now, how many am I gonna find that have what I may consider an inappropriate name? If I Google Foo, current Navy Ship’s names is NSA gonna come knocking?

                • AW1Ed says:

                  No harm no foul, Bro.

                  “On 3 March 1819, an act of Congress formally placed the responsibility for assigning names to the Navy’s ships in the hands of the Secretary of the Navy, a prerogative which he still exercises. This act stated that “all of the ships, of the Navy of the United States, now building, or hereafter to be built, shall be named by the Secretary of the Navy, under the direction of the President of the United States.”

                  So these were named by Mabus and approved by the JEF.

                  • 5th/77th FA says:

                    Tanks Matey. Now Imma gonna haveta research ship names and see how disgusted I can get. I can see it now. “Mr. Navy Secretary Sen Suckup and Rep Ripoff is coming by to discuss naming the new ship. You need to have the account # of your favorite charity handy.”

          • NHSparky says:

            Throw Jimmy Carter onto that pile.

  3. Firebase says:

    Since Basilone was a Marine, I would think an amphibious assault ship would have been more appropriate than a guided-missile destroyer to honor his memory and his heroism.

    • AW1Ed says:

      Amphib Assault ships are usually named after famous battles.

      DDGs are normally named after Navy and Marine Corps heroes, so USS John Basilone is perfectly acceptable.

      Of course they’re exceptions, but these are the usual naming conventions.

      • The Other Whitey says:

        There’s been no shortage of destroyers named for Marines. For example, USS O’Bannon (three destroyers; Wickes-class DD-177, Fletcher-class DD-450, and Spruance-class DD-987) was named for 1LT Presley O’Bannon USMC, of Fauquier County, Virginia. O’Bannon stormed Derna Fortress with 60 men (himself, seven Marines, two Sailors, and 50 Greek mercenaries), routing the 4,000 Tripolitanian defenders.

      • USS Okinawa LPH 3, was de commisioned in 1992 and in 2002 was sent to the bottom of the Pacific ocean in a sinkex. Pic shows the Mark 4 torpedo wake hitting the side of the Lady of the seas. No gator ships named after her. I wonder if the name was not to be used anymore since she was named after the battle of Okinawa which took a large toll of ships and men. It’s maybe like when a devistating hurricane comes ashore, the name isn’t used anymore on future hurricanes. Any feed back on why we don’t see any Okinawa named Gators. She was an Iwo Jima class LPH which was made 100 feet shorter and one screw instead of two due to the McNamara budget cuts during that time period.

      • Firebase says:

        Thanks for setting me straight on the accepted protocol. Still, if a vessel will primarily be used to transport Marines, it makes sense to me that it should be named after a Marine hero.

        • AW1Ed says:

          You are quite welcome. The Navy does a lot of things that make no sense to our Nautically Challenged brothers and sisters.

          Because we can.

  4. George says:

    When enlisted heroes win these awards, you can bet your ass they earned them.

    Not so when the officer corps hands them out like candy to their pals.

  5. M48DAT says:

    USS Purple Crayon said the Army guy.

  6. Old NFO says:

    AW1 Ed is correct. Protocol trumps all… And yes, those ‘other’ ship names will be suitably modified by the crews… Like ” The Peanut” for a certain boat…

    • Cameron Kingsley says:

      What boat would that be? I’m curious.

      • AW1Ed says:

        Certain Seawolf Class USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23).

        • Cameron Kingsley says:

          Ah. That makes sense. I take it peanut means weakling?

          • Hondo says:

            No. Prior to entering politics, Carter was literally a peanut farmer. Published accounts give his reason for resigning his Navy commission as being to take over the family farm (a fairly large one) after his dad died in 1953.

        • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

          Another little Known US Navy Ship is the USS Walter Mondale which shadows the USS Jimmy Carter and always goes belly up anytime the USS Ronald Reagan is nearby!!

    • Slick Goodlin says:

      As an Army Guy, that makes me wonder what they call the USNS Harvey Milk and USNS Cesar Chavez?

      • AW1Ed says:

        That gouge is usually kept inside the life lines, so you’ll have to buy beers to some crew on those ships to loosen their tongues. I’d Hazard *cough* a guess that Cow Juice or Duds, and Salad are not far from the mark, though. These would be the “G” rated names.
        There will be others.

  7. Mason says:

    For those interested in our previous talks on Gunny Basilone. Medal of Honor for Guadalcanal and a posthumous Navy Cross for Iwo Jima after fighting the brass to get back to a front line unit. One of America’s best and not to be forgotten.

  8. M48DAT says:

    I love the way Sedo portrayed him in the HBO series The Pacific. In my 24 year career in the Army, I did a few joint missions in leadership roles with Marines. They are the most hard charging warriors that ever walked the face of this planet. Semper Fi my brothers.