Another Saturday, another christening at Ingalls Shipbuilding.
One week after christening National Security Cutter Calhoun, the Pascagoula shipyard once again welcomed dignitaries dockside, this time for the christening of Ingalls’ 13th amphibious transport dock ship, Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29).
LPD 29 is named in honor of U.S. Navy Capt. Richard M. McCool Jr., a World War II Medal of Honor recipient for his actions during the Battle of Okinawa. On June 11, 1945, McCool aided in the rescue of survivors off a sinking destroyer. When his own ship was later hit by a Japanese kamikaze, McCool suffered severe burns and shrapnel wounds, but continued to lead his crew in firefighting and rescue efforts until help arrived.
McCool would also serve in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, ultimately reaching the rank of Captain. He retired in 1974 after a 30-year career. McCool died on March 5, 2008, at the age of 86.
Seventy-seven years to the day after his actions at Okinawa, the ship named in his honor was christened, with granddaughters Shana McCool and Kate Oja serving as ship’s co-sponsors.
“To the commanding officer and future crew of this ship, may she (the ship) keep you safe,” Shana McCool said. “And in the words of our grandfather, may you always remember to fight as a unit and not as individuals.”
Ingalls president Kari Wilkinson noted Ingalls long history of building amphibious ships for the U.S. Navy.
“For nearly two decades, we have had the opportunity to build these amphibious ships, and we look forward to continuing this journey with such a valued partner,” Wilkinson said. “Today we reflect on Richard M. McCool Jr.’s bravery and heroism in front of a ship that will carry another generation of brave sailors and Marines into missions defending our freedom.”
U.S. Under Secretary of the Navy Erik Raven served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker.
“Richard M. McCool Jr. truly embodied the spirit of service above self,” Raven said. “The sailors and Marines who will sail on this future ship carry on that legacy following the example of spirit, patriotism and selflessness set by Richard M. McCool Jr.”
Raven also paid tribute to the shipbuilders and their Navy partners.
“We are able to deploy exquisite capabilities across the globe in great part due to our dedicated shipbuilders and our talented team,” he said. “These talented Americans are essential to making sure that our naval forces have the ships that they need.”
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