News Release

No. 521-99
(703) 695-0192 (media)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 4, 1999 (703)697-5737(public/industry)



The newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, LASSEN (DDG 82), will be christened Saturday, Nov. 6, 1999, during an 11 a.m. CST ceremony at Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Miss.

Rep. Steven T. Kuydendall of California will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Linda B. Lassen, wife of the ship's namesake and Barbara O. Pilling, wife of Navy Adm. Donald Pilling, vice chief of Naval Operations, will serve as ship co-sponsors. In the time-honored Navy tradition, Mrs. Lassen and Mrs. Pilling will break a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen LASSEN.

The ship is named in honor of Navy Cmdr. Clyde Everett Lassen, a native of Fort Myers, Fla., (1942-1994), who received the Medal of Honor for his courageous rescue of two downed aviators while commander of a search and rescue helicopter in Vietnam. On June 19, 1968, Lassen, then a 27-year old lieutenant flying a UH-2 Seaprite helicopter, made several attempts to recover the pilots, but dense tree cover, enemy fire, and intermittent illumination conspired to frustrate his efforts. Determined to complete his mission, Lassen turned on the landing lights of his helicopter despite the danger of revealing his position to the enemy. After the pilots made their way to the helicopter, Lassen, his bullet-riddled helicopter dangerously low on fuel, evaded further anti-aircraft fire before landing safely on a guided missile destroyer USS JOUETT (DLG 29). Lassen became the first naval aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in Vietnam. One previous Navy ship named LASSEN (AE 3) (1941-1947), an ammunition ship named for the volcanic peak in the Volcanic National Park, Calif., received three battle stars during World War II.

LASSEN is the 32nd of 51 Arleigh Burke class destroyers currently authorized by Congress. Truly multi-mission combatants, these destroyers are the most capable surface warships ever built. They are capable of conducting a variety of missions, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection, in support of the National Military Strategy.

Equipped with the latest weapons, electronics, helicopter support facilities, and propulsion, auxiliary and survivability systems, these destroyers will carry out the Navy's missions well into the next century.

Navy Cmdr. Sean O'Connor, a native of Rumson, N.J., is the prospective commanding officer of LASSEN. Upon commissioning in the year 2001, LASSEN will be homeported in San Diego, Calif., with a crew of 340 officers, chiefs and enlisted personnel, as a member of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The ship, being built by Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., is 509.5 feet in length, and has a waterline beam of 66 feet. Four gas-turbine engines power the 9,238 ton ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.