US shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries has officially started fabrication of the first “Flight III” Arleigh Burke-class (DDG 51) destroyer, the future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125).
The ceremony took place May 7 after shipbuilders at Ingalls Industries cut the first 100 tons of steel.
“The start of fabrication on a new destroyer is always exciting,” Ingalls’ DDG 51 program manager George Nungesser said.
“DDG 125 is no exception. Our shipbuilders have delivered 30 of these ships to the US Navy and back-to-back building has allowed them to gain experience and talent that is unmatched in our industry. They are eager to use their skillset to incorporate the Navy’s Flight III modifications into DDG 125 and provide the Navy with yet another state-of-the-art ship.”
DDG 125 will be the first “Flight III” ship in the Arleigh Burke- class of destroyers. Flight III will incorporate a new Advanced Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) that will replace the existing SPY-1 radar installed on the previous DDG 51 ships.
This is the first ship named to honor Capt. Jack H. Lucas, who, at the age of 14, forged his mother’s signature to join the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves during World War II. Lucas, then a private first class in the Marine Corps, turned 17 just five days before the U.S. invasion of Iwo Jima and stowed away on USS Deuel (APA 160) to fight in the campaign. During a close firefight with Japanese forces, Lucas saved the lives of three fellow Marines when, after two enemy hand-grenades were thrown into a U.S. trench, he placed himself on one grenade while simultaneously pulling the other under his body. One of the grenades did not explode; the other exploded but only injured Lucas.
Lucas is the youngest Marine and the youngest service member in World War II to receive the Medal of Honor.
Jack H. Lucas is the fifth of five Arleigh Burke-class destroyers HII was awarded in June 2013. The five-ship contract, part of a multi-year procurement in the DDG 51 program, allows Ingalls to build ships more efficiently by buying bulk material and moving the workforce from ship to ship.