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Zumwalt-class destroyer Michael Monsoor to be commissioned Saturday

By Allen Cone
Zumwalt-class destroyer Michael Monsoor to be commissioned Saturday
The Navy's next generation destroyer and second of the Zumwalt class, the future USS Michael Monsoor, is set to be commissioned this Saturday in San Diego. Photo courtesy of Bath Iron Works/U.S. Navy

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The Navy plans to commission the second Zumwalt-class destroyer, USS Michael Monsoor, on Saturday at the vessel's home port Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego.

The ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. Pacific time and will be streamed on the Navy Live blog, will include a principal address from U.S. Rep. Scott Peters. Sally Monsoor, Petty Officer Michael Monsoor's mother, will be the ship's sponsor.

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The Monsoor is second of three ships in the Zumwalt-class of destroyers to be commissioned. The lagship Zumalt was commissioned in 2016, and the USS Lyndon B. Johnson was launched in December and is scheduled to be christened this spring.

"USS Michael Monsoor is one of the most capable warfighting assets our nation has to offer," Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said in a statement. "This ship will provide independent forward presence and deterrence for decades to come and I am confident the crew will operate this vessel with the level of expertise, courage, and strength needed to overcome any challenge."

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The vessel is named for Michael A. Monsoor, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 29, 2006.

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Monsoor was part of a sniper overwatch security position when an insurgent threw a fragmentation grenade into their position. The grenade hit Monsoor's chest and then hit the ground. While Monsoor could have escaped, he instead jumped onto the grenade and smothered it. Though he protected two other Navy SEALs and several Iraqi army soldiers, Monsoor suffered a mortal wound from the explosion.

The Zumwalt class, named in honor of former Chief of Naval Operations, Elmo R. "Bud" Zumwalt Jr., has been billed as the most advanced destroyer ever built, and has stealth capabilities.

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With a considerably larger flight deck than other ship classes, the Navy said it has the ability "execute a wider array of surface, aviation, and undersea missions that deliver more manpower, firepower, and computing power to the fight." The ship can fire larger and more advanced land and anti-ship missiles because it cells are physically larger than similar cells on today's ships.

But Zumwalt's gun system, that could provide precision fire support deep inland ahead of advancing amphibious forces, has been put on the backburner. The ship is being repurposed as a surface strike platform, using its vertical launch missile system to engage land and sea targets with long-range cruise missiles, Vice Adm. William Merz told Congress in December.

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