At a ceremony in Mississippi on Aug. 19, a new U.S. Navy destroyer will be christened with the name of former Alaska U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.
At the time he left office, Stevens was the longest Republican U.S. senator in history, having served since 1968. Stevens, who served as an Army Air Corps in World War II, was a lifelong advocate for the nation’s military, military men and women, and national security.
The USS Ted Stevens will be the third vessel in the Flight III series of the Arleigh Burke class of guided-missile destroyers. The destroyers are built around the Aegis Combat System (tracks and guides weapons to destroy enemy targets), and the SPY-1D multi-function passive electronically scanned array radar, according to the description at the christening committee web page.
This class of destroyers is named after Admiral Arleigh Burke, a decorated destroyer officer during World War II and later the chief of Naval Operations.
Ranging in size from 505 to 509.5 feet in length, with a displacement of 8,300 to 9,700 tons, and equipped with over 90 missiles, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are larger and more heavily armed than preceding classes of guided-missile cruisers.
The ships have anti-aircraft warfare capabilities with surface-to-air missiles, tactical land strikes via Tomahawk missiles, anti-submarine warfare, anti-submarine rockets, and anti-sub helicopters, as well as anti-surface warfare with over-the-horizon Harpoon missiles.
The lead ship of this class, the USS Arleigh Burke, was commissioned during Admiral Burke’s lifetime on July 4, 1991. Following the decommissioning of the final Spruance-class destroyer, the USS Cushing in 2005, the Arleigh Burke-class vessels remained the sole active destroyers within the U.S. Navy until the introduction of the Zumwalt class in 2016.
The Arleigh Burke class holds the record for the lengthiest production run of any U.S. Navy surface combatant. As of May 2022, 70 of these destroyers are active, with additional units planned for future service. More information at this Ted Stevens Foundation link.
Sponsor of the christening is Sen. Stevens’ widow, Catherine Stevens, a fourth-generation Alaskan who grew up in the territory and then State of Alaska. She has a long history of public service and a legal career that included being the state’s district attorney in Fairbanks. Catherine received presidential appointments to the Eisenhower Memorial Commission and to the board of the Kennedy Center.
Ship sponsors are the invited persons who typically has ties to the namesake of the ship and plays a ceremonial role during the christening, launching, and commissioning of a vessel. They are often family members related to the namesake. In 1986, Catherine Stevens was the sponsor for the USS Alaska (SSBN-732), a U.S. Navy Ohio class ballistic missile submarine.
Also sponsoring the ship are Ted Stevens’ daughters Susan Stevens Covich, and Lily Becker. Granddaughter Laura Sexton is matron of honor and grandchildren of Stevens will attend.
The christening will take place in Pascagoula, Mississippi at the Ingall’s Shipbuilding yard, which is one of the leading builders of ships for the Navy.
The ceremony, beginning at 8:30 Central Time (5:30 am Alaska Time), will be streamed live on YouTube at the following link: