The U.S. Navy on Saturday commissioned the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Delbert D. Black (DDG 119). It is the first ship to bear its name.
DDG 119 honors the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON). Black is known for initiating the master chief program, thus ensuring enlisted leadership was properly represented Navy-wide.
Delbert D. Black is the 68th Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer to be delivered to the Navy.
The ship’s sponsor is Mrs. Ima Black, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Delbert D. Black’s widow. Mrs. Black is also a former Sailor who served during World War II in the Navy WAVES – Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.
Due to concerns with the Corona Virus the commissioning was a private ceremony that was live streamed to allow public viewing of the ceremony of the ship named for the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON).
MCPON Russell Smith who is currently serving as the 15th senior enlisted leader of the Navy, was the Principle Speaker at the event.
MCPON Smith fills the role begun by Black as advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations and to the Chief of Naval Personnel in matters dealing with enlisted personnel and their families.
“This is the first ship to honor a senior enlisted leader in such a way for their contributions in this realm, and represents a significant milestone achievement that recognizes both the responsibility of the position to the Navy, as well the tremendous accountability to those enlisted Sailors we primarily provide advocacy for. The vision and effort it took to move the idea of a Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy into an effective reality cannot be overstated, and all of us have been the benefactors of his legend of service by advancing the work that he began,” said MCPON Smith.
At the ceremony, Secretary of the Navy, The Honorable Kenneth J. Braithwaite was represented by Assistant Secretary of the Navy James Guerts and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Russell Smith who placed the ship into commission. Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Michael Gilday was represented by Adm. William K. Lescher, Vice Chief of Naval Operations.
The Commander of Naval Surface Force Atlantic, Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, welcomed this ship that brings a wide range of warfighting capabilities in multi-threat air, surface and subsurface environments to the premier Surface Force in the world.
“The USS Delbert D. Black joins the Fleet during a time when its cutting-edge capabilities are most needed. I’m extremely proud of this crew and know the pennant of courage, teamwork, inclusiveness and sacrifice will be taken up and flown even higher with the Sailors who serve aboard the ship,” said Cooper.
Delbert D. Black’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Matthew McKenna, reported the ship ready to Adm. Lescher.
The crew is excited to kick off Tulsa Navy Week as part of their commissioning.
“Being that Delbert Black was a native of Oklahoma, I’m ecstatic that Tulsa Navy Week will highlight the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, namesake of our ship, virtually Oct. 5 through 11. This is much more than a ceremony; the commissioning of a ship is a culmination of unwavering dedication. The ship is ready to be introduced to the Fleet,” said McKenna.