Les Waltz operates the fabricating machine Wednesday to make the first cut in sheet metal that will eventually become BIW’s 45th Arleigh Burke destroyer, the John E. Kilmer. Photo courtesy of Bath Iron Works

Bath Iron Works began work on its 45th destroyer at a fabricating facility in Brunswick on Wednesday.

DDG134, the USS John E. Kilmer, is named for a Navy hospital man who earned the Medal of Honor during the Korean War for his actions treating wounded Marines at the Battle of Bunker Hill, BIW said in a statement.

The ship is the fourth Flight III Arleigh Burke destroyer to start construction at BIW.

Charles Krugh, president of Bath Iron Works, said the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers under construction at BIW are critical assets for the U.S. Navy in performing its mission. Advances in radar and combat systems make them the most technologically advanced surface combatant in the world.

A burning machine within a protective enclosure cuts the first sheet of steel for the future USS John E. Kilmer (DDG 134). Photo courtesy of Bath Iron Works

“The future USS John E. Kilmer will be an important platform for the Navy to provide for the security of our country and our families. By safely executing high quality work we will deliver a ship that meets our reputation – Bath Built is Best Built,” he said in the statement.

Kilmer continued to tend to the wounded despite being injured when Communist Chinese forces assaulted the Korean hilltop with artillery and mortars on Aug. 13, 1952. A member of the H Company, 3rd Battalion, 7 Marines, Kilmer was mortally wounded when he used his body under heavy fire to shield a Marine he was treating. He was chosen to be the namesake of DDG 134 by the Secretary of the Navy in 2019.

Les Waltz, who has been with BIW for 59 years, was selected to activate the burning machine to cut the first steel for the ship. Waltz started in Structural Fabrication and currently is a dispatcher for the transportation team.

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