USS WINSTON S. CHURCHILL (DDG 81), home to 34 officers and 280 enlisted personnel, was built by Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. She took five years to build and was christened on April 17, 1999. The 9,500-ton, 510-foot- long Aegis equipped Arleigh Burke-Class destroyer was commissioned at her homeport of Norfolk, Virginia on March 10, 2001. Mrs. Janet Langhart Cohen, the ship’s sponsor and wife of then-Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, and Lady Mary Soames, Sir Winston Churchill’s daughter and the ship’s honorary sponsor from the United Kingdom, took part in the ceremony.
USS WINSTON S. CHURCHILL is the only U.S. Navy ship to have a Royal Navy officer assigned as ship’s company. As part of the Personnel Exchange Program, Lieutenant Nick Ward, RN, is serving as the ship’s navigator for a two-year tour of duty. The ship is named in honor of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill (1874-1965), best known for his courageous leadership as Britain’s Prime Minister during World War Two. He was a formidable political leader, orator, soldier, and author. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1953. When he retired from the House of Commons in 1964, Sir Winston had spent over six decades in public life, a career that spanned the period from the last great British cavalry charge to the nuclear age.
USS WINSTON S. CHURCHILL is the fifth U.S. warship to be named in honor of an Englishman and the 16th warship to be named after a foreign national – the only one in active service today.
The ship’s mission is to provide a forward naval presence and ensure the world’s oceans remain free and accessible. In order to fulfill her mission, USS WINSTON S. CHURCHILL is able to conduct prompt and sustained combat operations at sea. The ship is equipped to operate in a high-density, multi-threat environment either independently or as a vital member of a carrier strike group. She is the 31st Arleigh Burke Class destroyer to be built and is capable of fighting air, surface, and subsurface battles simultaneously. The Aegis-equipped destroyer has the AN/SPY-1D phased array radar, the most powerful air search radar in the U.S. Navy’s inventory. Besides the 5” gun, the ship is equipped with a vertical launch system (VLS), close in weapons system (CIWS), torpedo launchers, 50-caliber machine guns, and two SH-60 LAMPS MK III helicopters. Her four gas turbine engines allow her to reach speeds in excess of 30 knots.