USA — Navy Christens Guided Missile Destroyer William P. Lawrence

The Navy will chris­ten the newest Arleigh Burke class guid­ed-mis­sile destroy­er, William P. Lawrence, April 17, 2010, dur­ing a 10 a.m. CDT cer­e­mo­ny at Northrop Grum­man Ship­build­ing in Pascagoula, Miss.

Des­ig­nat­ed DDG 110, the new destroy­er hon­ors the late Vice Adm. William P. Lawrence, who served near­ly six years as a pris­on­er of war (POW) in North Viet­nam and lat­er as super­in­ten­dent of the Naval Acad­e­my.

Lawrence was born Jan. 13, 1930, in Nashville, Tenn. He grad­u­at­ed from the U.S. Naval Acad­e­my in 1951. At the Naval Acad­e­my, he played three var­si­ty sports and was pres­i­dent and brigade com­man­der, in which capac­i­ty he helped estab­lish the Brigade Hon­or con­cept. He grad­u­at­ed from the Naval Air Test Cen­ter as an hon­or grad­u­ate and in 1958 was the first naval avi­a­tor to fly twice the speed of sound.

Dur­ing the Viet­nam War, as com­mand­ing offi­cer of Fight­er Squadron 143, Lawrence earned the Sil­ver Star for a strike against a heav­i­ly defend­ed tar­get in North Viet­nam. He com­plet­ed his mis­sion, but was cap­tured after his air­craft went down. He remained a POW from June 1967 until March 1973. He earned the Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Medal for his lead­er­ship to fel­low POWs.

Fol­low­ing pro­mo­tion to rear admi­ral in 1974, he served as com­man­der, Light Attack Wing, U. S. Pacif­ic Fleet; direc­tor, Avi­a­tion Pro­grams Divi­sion on the staff of the chief of naval oper­a­tions; assis­tant deputy chief of naval oper­a­tions (air war­fare); super­in­ten­dent, U.S. Naval Acad­e­my; com­man­der, U. S. Third Fleet in the Pacif­ic; and chief of naval per­son­nel, retir­ing in 1986.

Ross Per­ot, Texas busi­ness­man and for­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, will deliv­er the ceremony’s prin­ci­pal address. Diane Lawrence, wid­ow of the ship’s name­sake and Vice Adm. Lawrence’s daugh­ters, Lau­rie Lawrence, M.D., and Capt. Wendy Lawrence, USN (Ret.) will serve as spon­sors of the ship. In accor­dance with Navy tra­di­tion, they will break a bot­tle of cham­pagne across the ship’s bow and chris­ten the ship.

William P. Lawrence, the 60th Arleigh Burke class destroy­er, will be able to con­duct a vari­ety of oper­a­tions, from peace­time pres­ence and cri­sis man­age­ment to sea con­trol and pow­er pro­jec­tion. William P. Lawrence will be capa­ble of fight­ing air, sur­face and sub­sur­face bat­tles simul­ta­ne­ous­ly and con­tains a myr­i­ad of offen­sive and defen­sive weapons designed to sup­port­mar­itime war­fare in keep­ing with “A Coop­er­a­tive Strat­e­gy for 21st Cen­tu­ry Seapow­er,” which pos­tures the sea ser­vices to apply mar­itime pow­er to pro­tect U.S. vital inter­ests in an increas­ing­ly inter­con­nect­ed and uncer­tain world.

Cmdr. Thomas R. Williams, II, is the prospec­tive com­mand­ing offi­cer of the ship and will lead the crew of 276 offi­cers and enlist­ed per­son­nel. The 9,200-ton William P. Lawrence is being built by Northrop Grum­man Ship­build­ing in Pascagoula, Miss. The ship is 509 feet in length, has a water­line beam of 59 feet, and a nav­i­ga­tion­al draft of 31 feet. Four gas tur­bine engines will pow­er the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.

Addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion on Arleigh Burke class destroy­ers is avail­able online at .

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)