The future USS John Basilone sits in the water just before its christening on June 18. John Terhune / The Times Record

Sen. Susan Collins called for the US to build more warships while speaking at the christening of the future USS John Basilone on Saturday at Bath Iron Works.

“Since Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine, U.S. warships are now deployed to the Baltic and the Mediterranean as not seen in years,” said Collins, echoing similar comments she made during an April visit to the shipyard. “It is clear now more than ever … that the Navy needs more destroyers like the Basilone.”

Several state lawmakers, including Senate President Troy Jackson and Speaker of the House Ryan Fecteau, were among the nearly 2,000 people in attendance for the christening ceremony. Also present were over a dozen relatives of Gunnery Sgt. Basilone, who died in battle in 1945 after earning the Medal of Honor and gaining fame for his heroics in World War II’s Pacific front.

The Navy Band Northeast plays before the start of the christening ceremony on June 18. John Terhune / The Times Record

Gov. Janet Mills told the story of Basilone, the sixth of 10 children born to a pair of Italian immigrants in small-town Raritan, New Jersey. On October 24, 1942, Basilone led a team of two dozen marines as they successfully fended off a two-day Japanese assault on vital airstrip on the island of Guadalcanal.

Basilone returned home a hero, and in less than a month his war bond tour raised $19 billion. He rejected the opportunity to live a comfortable life as a figurehead and instead lobbied to return to the front lines. He died fighting on Iwo Jima in 1945.

The themes of service and sacrifice ran through Saturday’s ceremony, which featured remarks from Basilone’s brother, niece and several military leaders, including Navy Vice Admiral Francis Morley and Sergeant Major Troy Black of the Marine Corps.


Navy Vice Admiral Scott Conn highlighted the future crew members of the Basilone, which will be helmed by Commander Carne Livingston. He also took time to recognize the more than 7,000 BIW employees who helped build the ship.

Ryan Manion, co-sponsor of the future USS John Basilone, breaks the christening bottle on the ship’s bow on June 18. Manion is the president of the Travis Manion Foundation, named for her brother who was killed in action in Iraq. Contributed / Bath Iron Works

“There are many ways to serve your nation, and you do not have to wear a uniform,” Conn said to the BIW workers in attendance. “I want to thank you for the service that you are providing to our nation.”

Charles Krugh, attending his first christening since he took over as president of Bath Iron Works following the sudden and unexplained departure of Dirk Lesko in April, said he has begun building bonds within the shipyard.

“I’m so proud to be here in Bath Iron Works and to represent the best ship builders in the world,” said Krugh, who joined BIW’s parent company General Dynamics in 2011. “This is both a tremendous honor and a huge responsibility.”

Streamers rain down on the crowd after the christening of the future USS John Basilone on June 18. John Terhune / The Times Record

The future John Basilone is the 39th Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer built by Bath Iron Works. The ship is 510 feet long, 67 feet tall and holds a crew of 279, according to General Dynamics.

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