The U.S. Navy commissioned the first Flight III Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), on Sat., Oct. 7, 2023 in Tampa, Florida.
Ingalls Shipbuilding President Kari Wilkinson spoke at the event, recognizing the crew of DDG 125 and the inspiration they provide for our shipbuilders.
“To the crew and your families, the sacrifices you make and what you do for our nation are the inspiration for what shipbuilders do as a way of life and we draw energy each day knowing that we are building not just the tools of keeping peace, but also your home away from home,” Wilkinson said. “To the men and women of Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), it is an honor to serve you, and we look forward to watching the spectacular things you will do on your most important future endeavors.”
Guest speaker Under Secretary of the Navy Erik Raven wished the crew of Jack H. Lucas fair winds and following seas as the ship begins its commissioned service.
“Commissioning the Jack H. Lucas means we continue to deliver fast, agile, and networked surface combatants to the Navy. The Jack H. Lucas is built to fight. It is a fast, maneuverable, versatile, and lethal ship – capable of tackling any mission it is given,” Raven said. “It will keep the Navy and Marine Corps adaptive and ready, and also uphold our commitment to maintaining the free flow of commerce, deterring military aggression, and facilitating quick responses to natural disasters across the globe.”
Guest speakers for the event also included the 20th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Carlos Ruiz and Adm. Daryl Caudle, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
Ruby Lucas, one of the ship’s sponsors, and Jack’s wife at the time of his death, emotionally thanked the audience for coming to honor her husband before giving the order to “man our ship and bring her to life!” alongside co-sponsor, philanthropist Catherine B. Reynolds.
Capt. Brett Oster, Jack H Lucas’ commanding officer, recognized the driving force behind the ship’s namesake, and how his crew reflects that memory.
“There is something you can never, ever deny about Jack H. Lucas. That man loved this country. That is why we’re here, because we love this country. You can never take that away – his dedication,” Oster said. “When you have a purpose, and you have dedication, and you have vision, and you have teamwork, anything that you set your sites on can come together.”
DDG 125 is the first ship named for 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.
USS Jack H. Lucas is the first Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer built for the U.S. Navy by Ingalls. The shipbuilder has delivered 35 destroyers to the U.S. Navy, with four currently under construction.
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are the backbone of the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet. These highly capable, multi-mission ships conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence to national security providing a wide range of warfighting capabilities in multi-threat air, surface and subsurface.