NWS25oct-4. Navy's newest destroyer, USS O'Kane commissioned at Pearl Harbor NAVY WIRE SERVICE (NWS) - October 25, 1999 by Pacific Fleet Public Affairs PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NWS) -- The Navy's newest guided- missile destroyer officially joined the U.S. Pacific Fleet as USS O'Kane (DDG 77), commissioned into active naval service during a ceremony at Naval Station Pearl Harbor Saturday, Oct. 23. The Arleigh Burke class destroyer, one of the most technologically advanced ships in the Navy, is named in honor of Rear Adm. Richard H. O'Kane (1911-1994), a native of Dover, N.H. O'Kane was awarded the Medal of Honor for his daring attacks on two Japanese convoys while in command of the World War II submarine USS Tang (SS 306) in 1944. After his submarine was sunk, the Japanese captured then- Cmdr. O'Kane, who spent the rest of the war in captivity. Retired Navy Capt. Edward L. Beach, a personal friend of Rear Adm. O'Kane, was the ceremony's principal speaker. Beach recalled a visit with O'Kane after the war in a rest camp in Guam, where O'Kane was recovering from his six months in a Japanese prison camp. Beach described O'Kane's anguish when recounting his final patrol and the loss of his ship and crew. This new ship, he said, "is more than a piece of machinery, it embodies the virtues and ideals of Admiral O'Kane." "With this wonderful ship, we honor Richard O'Kane," Beach said. "But the real fact is that it is he who is honoring us. It is we, who bask in his memory, who are truly honored by the privilege of doing so." In time honored tradition, the ship's sponsor, Leslie Allen Berry, Rear Adm. O'Kane's granddaughter, gave the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!" Ernestine O'Kane, wife of Rear Adm. O'Kane, was the ship's Matron of Honor. Cmdr. David C. Hulse, from Mendham, N.J., commands O'Kane and its crew of 318 officers and enlisted Sailors. O'Kane is only the second ship in U.S. naval history to be commissioned in Hawaii. The Pearl Harbor-homeported guided missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70), was commissioned in Pearl Harbor in July 1993. Both commissioning ceremonies were sponsored and organized by members of Hawaii's community and the Honolulu Council Navy League. O'Kane's commissioning ceremony kicked off a series of events celebrating the centennial of the Navy's submarine force. O'Kane will get underway for several weeks of testing and qualifications of its new combat systems equipment. The ship will do much of this testing on the ocean range off the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai. The Navy's newest ship was built at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine and is the 27th destroyer of her class and the 16th built by Bath Iron Works. The ship was built at a cost of $900 million. O'Kane's construction began with the keel laying on May 8, 1997. The ship was launched and christened in Bath, Maine, on March 28, 1998. O'Kane left Bath, Maine for her transit to Hawaii on Aug. 26, 1999 and arrived in Pearl Harbor on Oct. 15, 1999. This multi-mission ship is equipped with the Navy's modern Aegis combat weapons system, which combines space-age communication, radar and weapons technologies in a single platform for unlimited flexibility. These versatile ships are designed to operate independently or in support of aircraft carrier and amphibious operations. O'Kane joins 12 other ships and 15,000 other Sailors currently stationed in Hawaii. -USN-