NORFOLK – The guided-missile destroyer that leads a whole class of extremely capable, technologically advanced warships, USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) will celebrate her silver anniversary July 4, with a weekend of events in downtown Norfolk where she was commissioned in 1991.
Highlighting the celebratory weekend, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson will be the keynote speaker during an Independence Day memorial ceremony honoring the visionary ship’s namesake, Adm. Arleigh Burke.
“Adm. Arleigh Burke has meant a lot to this ship and to our Navy,” said Cmdr. Tom Myers, the ship’s commanding officer.
“My crew and I represent the fighting spirit which Adm. Burke embodied throughout his career. It is only fitting that we mark the silver anniversary with such a grand event. It is even more special that our CNO is able to take time out of his busy schedule to share in the moment and remember a fellow Chief of Naval Operations.”
Referred to as “The Admiral’s Destroyer,” the ship is named for Boulder, Colorado-native Arleigh Albert “31-knot” Burke, a highly-distinguished combat veteran of World War II who later became the longest serving CNO.
The ship recently completed a year-long modernization in which the ship was equipped with the Navy’s newest Baseline 9 Aegis Combat Systems suite. The upgrade makes Arleigh Burke one of the premier air warfare and ballistic missile defense platforms in the Atlantic Fleet. It is the lead ship in the Arleigh Burke class of 62 destroyers currently active in the fleet, aptly called the work horse of the Navy.
The public is invited to tour the ship throughout the weekend. Tours will be offered Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Monday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
A security station will be set up and strict security rules will be followed. Visitors will be required to show a picture ID. Minor children must be accompanied by an adult. Security requirements mandate that all packages, bags and purses will be searched. Visitors are strongly encouraged to leave these items locked in their cars. In addition, pocket knives or other inappropriate items will be confiscated.
The ship is considered an industrial environment and guests are encouraged to dress appropriately. Visitors should wear comfortable, appropriate clothes and shoes; avoid open-toed sandals, high heels, long necklaces and similar items that might get caught up along the tour. Hands should be kept free to use handrails.
There are no handicap access points and the tour includes climbing stairs. While there is no minimum age requirement, small children will have to walk or be carried, as strollers cannot be pushed about the ship and are not permitted aboard.