The crew of the USS Carl M. Levin during its commissioning ceremony in Baltimore Harbor Saturday, June 24. The banner includes the ship’s slogan, “Tenacious in the Fight.” EJ Hersom photos

Bath Iron Works’ latest destroyer, the USS Carl M. Levin, was commissioned into service Saturday morning during a ceremony in Baltimore Harbor, Maryland.

The ship is BIW’s 38th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, heralded as the backbone of the Navy’s fleet. Navy officials and politicians have said the ships have recently taken on added significance as a bulwark amid the Russia-Ukraine war and China’s growing naval fleet.

Kelly Craft, the USS Carl M. Levin’s commanding officer.

“This ship represents another chapter in our 139-year legacy, and it’s the latest chapter in four centuries of shipbuilding along the banks of the Kennebec River in Maine,” BIW President Chuck Krugh said during the ceremony. “To all the men and women who put their hearts and souls in this complex and incredible ship, we salute you for your commitment to your craft.”

The ship, the 70th Arleigh Burke destroyer in the Navy’s fleet, carries missiles, torpedoes, machine guns and advanced radar, and has room for two helicopters. The vessel is about 510 feet long and has a crew of about 330. It will be homeported in Pearl Harbor under the command of Kelly Craft.

Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said the fleet is prepared for possible threats posed by Russia and China.

“It is imperative that we, the United States of America, stand ready to support our international partners and our allies as we confront common challenges that endanger the freedom of millions as well as disrupt the flow of commerce around the world. In order to do so, our nation needs to maintain a strong joint force.


“This ship before you, and our entire naval fleet, supports not just the joint force but our entire nation by guaranteeing our unencumbered access to a free and open maritime commons that serves as the lifeblood of our economy.”

The USS Carl M. Levin, the 38th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer built by Bath Iron Works.

The ship was named after Democratic U.S. Sen. Carl M. Levin, who was Michigan’s longest-serving U.S. senator with 36 years of service and chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He died in 2021.

Levin’s three daughters, the ship’s sponsors, attended the ceremony.

“He couldn’t imagine a higher honor for an American citizen,” his daughter Erica said. “Dad fully understood and appreciated that the crew will put themselves in harm’s way to protect the freedoms we enjoy. We want to thank the Bath Iron Works community for building this incredible ship.”

His daughters shouted the ceremonial order “Man our ship and bring her to life!” to bring the ship online to conclude the ceremony. Navy commissioning ceremonies date back to 1775, when the Alfred, the Continental Navy’s first ship, was commissioned in Philadelphia.

BIW laid the keel for the Levin in February 2019. Its construction was delayed in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic and a union strike.

BIW currently has six destroyers under construction. The next scheduled for completion is the USS John Basilone. Destroyers are the only ships that BIW builds and it competes with the larger Ingalls Shipbuilding shipyard in Mississippi to win construction contracts from the Navy.

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