The 39th guided-missile destroyer built by Bath Iron Works will be christened during ceremonies beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday at BIW’s shipyard facilities in Bath.

The ship is named for Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone, who earned the Medal of Honor and Navy Cross during World War II.

The ship’s keel was laid in 2017, and the ship was launched on June 12, 2022, after it was transferred from the shipyard’s Land Level Transfer Facility to the BIW dry dock, which then was submerged in the channel of the Kennebec River.

The seal of the future USS John Basilone Contributed

An Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the 9,200 ton-vessel is nearly 510 feet long, 66.5 feet wide and will be armed with a 5-inch gun, a close-range aerial defense system, torpedoes and 96 vertical launch system cells for missiles. It will also house two helicopters.

Basilone will have a crew of 24 officers and 255 enlisted crewmen and can travel at a speed of more than 30 knots.

Arleigh Burke destroyers are often referred to as the backbone of the modern Navy and can be used to conduct missile strikes on targets on foreign soil.


The ship’s sponsors are Ryan Manion, president of the Travis Manion Foundation, and Amy Looney Heffernan, vice president of the Travis Manion Foundation.

During Saturday’s ceremony, remarks will be given by BIW President Charles Krugh, Sen. Susan Collins, Vice Adm. Scott Conn, Vice Adm. Francis Morley, Marine Sgt. Major Troy E. Black and Donald Basilone, brother of the ship’s namesake.

John Basilone fought during World War II in the Pacific theater, notably at Guadalcanal, where he led a dozen men defending four machine gun positions against the Japanese. After running out of ammunition, he fought with his pistol and then hand to hand with a machete, eventually forcing the enemy to retreat.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt awarded Basilone the Medal of Honor “for extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action against enemy Japanese forces, above and beyond the call of duty,” and the government used his popularity and enlisted him to sell $19 billion worth of war bonds.

Later, Basilone stormed the beach at Iwo Jima with his fellow Marines. During fierce fighting and exposure to enemy fire, he destroyed enemy positions with grenades and explosives allowing Marines to advance. He was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.

Basilone has been honored with a statue at a park bearing his name in Raritan, New Jersey.

The Gearing-class destroyer USS Basilone was launched in 1945 and decommissioned 32 years later after earning three battle stars for service in the Vietnam War.

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